The phone rings, and the request is sweet.
We are having a family reunion and my mom and her sisters used to live in your house. Is it okay if we come out and look around?
We’d actually just recently met, this daughter and I, and when it was discovered that her mother grew up in my house, that the grandfather had built my house, and that the reunion was around the corner, well, I’d suggested the visit then and there. So when the phone rang and the request was hesitantly made, I said, Of course. Come.
They come, the three sisters left of the four who grew up here. They gather in the yard with their children and grandchildren and they begin the narration their pasts.
This is where the outhouse was. Oooo, it was a long, dark, cold walk in the middle of the night.
Over there was the barn.
Oh, look! The veranda! I remember shelling peas and snapping beans out here.
This is where Mom had her flowers. And the garden was over there. Remember?
They wander and they visit and I eavesdrop on their memories, soaking in the history of this old place that I love. Built almost one hundred years ago by the father of these girls. Girls who ran and played and grew where my boys did and do.
They gather together and sons hug teary mothers and they take pictures and laugh.
I ask them to come in for a minute and they say with words that they don’t want to be bothers, but their eyes say yes,please, and they come into my kitchen. And again, they turn and point and remember.
The old stove sat here.
Oh my, remember the time I fell down the stairs and broke that pane of glass in the door?
I remember riding those stairs on blankets like flying carpets!
Oh, the dining room. The hours we spent listening to the radio in here. Remember?
And I marvel that as girls the ages of my boys, these women looked through the same panes of glass at the same fields. Their mother washed their hair in the same old claw foot tub that my family soaks in. They slept in the same rooms, ran up and down the same stairs, swept the same floors.
It is this, I think, that makes a home. That transforms wood and plaster and glass into a thing cherished and loved. It’s the living that goes on – the eating and laughing and growing and crying.
I wonder, as my children are still in the making of them, what memories they will have of our home? Will they return one day and turn to each other and to their children and grandchildren and say these things?
This is where the goats were kept. Remember milking them?
And this is where we had our chicken house.
Remember the time the dugout was dry and we used it as a toboggan hill that winter?
All that grass we had to mow each summer! Remember?
Remember the time we tried to teach Dad how to skateboard on the veranda?
Today, as I begin a month of loving my home, I am conscious of memory. Of the past and the memories that are held there, fragile and valuable like fine antique china. Of the present, and the memories being made. Flesh and blood and life, now. And I am conscious, too, of the future. Of the memories to plan toward. Of the Thanksgiving to celebrate next weekend, and Hallowe’en around the corner, and Christmas to plan toward, and day after day of living the ordinary together.
And inside it all, in the midst of my nostalgia and my busy now and the unknown tomorrow, I am thankful for this place, for these times, for this family, and for this home.
While this post is part of my 31 days series, it is also part of the My Dad and Me series that I share with my wonderful father, David Lidbury. I’m hoping he’ll be thinking about these things, homes and memories and such, as he prepares to blog here next week.