Free Write Friday with Kellie Elmore.
This house has a story. Tell it.
I wondered if it would be a mistake to come back; to revisit a memory that is long since buried yet yearns to be resurrected.
Yet, here I am.
I am not surprised the “Love Nest,” as my gramps used to call it, is in such a state of disrepair, although it wouldn’t be had it stayed in my family. When gramps died about 10 years ago uncle Morris inherited it. He was the oldest son (not the oldest child) and whether he deserved it or not, he got the beautiful white clapboard house where he and my mother and five other siblings had been born and raised, and where I and my brother spent all our youthful summers.
It was such a romantic place then.
Nestled in a collection of elegant trees that shimmied and shimmered in the summer breeze, keeping us, my brother and I, cool while we played at hide and seek and other childish games. Grampa would call us in for dinner from his rocking chair on the upstairs porch. He was the great overseer.
We always felt loved here.
Wow, the memories are thick as cob webs now.
The porch at the front there, its door opens into a small hallway that leads upstairs to three tiny bedrooms. The only bathroom in the house is downstairs by the kitchen. Oh, the arguments we had about who would use it first in the morning. Sometimes I won, but not always. You had to be up bright and early to beat gramps to the punch.
To the right of the door way is the parlour. It used to have an upright piano by the window which gramma played on a daily basis, usually in the evenings before we would retire to bed. For as along as I can remember we’d all (gramps, Joe and I) gather around her as she tinkled those old ivories with a conservatory flourish, and sing the old gospel hymns.
Gramma had a twinkling soprano voice so I always sang the harmony ~ usually the alto line, but sometimes I’d lapse into tenor, just to test my sight reading. And when I did that Joe would instantly switch to my part. He was always up for a challenge. Yes, we all had our own hymnals. I wonder where they are now?
Gramps had a resounding bass-baritone and when he got going the rest of us would just stop and give him the floor. And then we’d all collapse in giggles when he finish and realize he’d been singing all by himself while gramma played.
Thank goodness he had a sense of humour.
Gramma was a wizard cook. She loved that kitchen and because gramps loved to eat he made sure gramma had the best of everything she needed to whip up a culinary delight.
I swear the house oozed with the scent of fresh bread, even when it wasn’t baking. Sometimes she’d make cinnamon rolls, which were my favourite, and on Sunday’s she’d always bake a pie of some description to go with dinner. She’d go with whatever fruit was in season, and in the winter would use her own canned peaches, or whatever else was in store, to create a sweet delicacy.
My mouth waters just thinking of it.
Often, in fact most Sundays, she’d invite lonely old Mr. Humphrey from down the road to join us. He lost his wife during the birth of their only child, Marty (if I remember correctly), and never remarried. Raised that boy on his own. He left home after school and moved thousands of miles away to chase history in the Middle East.
Gramma hated to see anyone as nice as Mr. Humphrey spend Sunday alone. So, unless he had somewhere else to be, he’d always come by after church and in the evenings after dinner share his frontier stories (he was a historian in his own right.) Once he gave me a signed copy of a book about the early pioneers and the Gold Rush that he’d had published. He fancied himself the Kenneth Roberts of the West. He was a talented writer, to be sure.
Of course, not all the memories of this house are good.
Family reunions were held every summer up until the year gramps died, and while they were fun for the most part, I hated bumping into uncle Morris. He was a creep. Upon gramps death, 10 years ago, Morris inherited the house and its 25 acre property. Let’s see, ol’ miser Morris would have been in his mid-fifties, I guess. He’d had no children. Never been married, in fact, so had no incentive to keep the place going. He was the black sheep of the family with the energy of a sloth and consequently let the place run down. He lived like a hermit.
I never liked him. He was mean to my mother, his sister, and gave me the willies. I never wanted to be left alone with him when I was young, and discovered all kinds of excuses to lock myself in my bedroom to write in my journal when he came to visit. He was the one person who stood between me and care-free summers with gramps and gramma.
So, I haven’t been back here since gramps died and I’m not surprised to stand here and see the once beautiful house in such decrepit condition.
It’s for sale. Uncle Morris died last month without a will and the property must be sold to cover his heavy debt load, though what he spent his (gramps’) money on I can’t begin to guess.
My husband and I have talked about buying the property to keep it in the family. This old house is too far gone now to be saved, so we’d have to raze it and build another. That wouldn’t be so bad.
Building on memories. Building our own love nest.
Thank you to Kellie for another great challenge.
©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014