If A House Could Talk

And so it begins!  With the arrival of the first brown boxes, bubble-wrap and packaging tape, our move has officially commenced.  I'd honestly thought I'd seen the last of corrugated cardboard, and unprinted newspaper, when the last of our shipping boxes had been hauled away, almost three years ago.  But, as I keep reminding myself, you never know what lies around the bend.

When Rick and I made the decision to pack-up our life in California, and head back east, we weren't just moving, we were returning home.  Though Rick never lived in Pittsburgh, we both considered my aunt and uncle's house, our home-away-from-home.

If houses could talk, this one would tell the tale of my aunt and uncle's family - our family - for it was under this roof that Rick and I began our life together.  We toasted our wedding vows, baptized our daughter, shared laughter, and cried a few tears here, in the company of our extended family.

My aunt and uncle built this house, loved it, and considered it a gathering place. Though they never had children of their own to fill the space, nieces and nephews grew up here, opened presents at Christmas, played tag in the yard on summer evenings.

My uncle told ghost stories around the fire-pit out back, tended his bar, and worked from his office upstairs.  My aunt busied herself in the kitchen, lovingly baking for family and friends, tenderly nurtured her garden, and cared for her dogs.

My beloved Grandmother, slipped peacefully from our world, and into the next in the back bedroom upstairs; my aunt whispered her wedding vows before a priest in the great room, just minutes before receiving last rites. Two short years after losing Lynn to cancer, we mourned the death of my uncle, and for a short period of time, the house sat quiet and empty, unloved.

There was much to be done before we could move in; more than forty years worth of memories had been collected and stored in the house, and it's attic. Once the house had been cleaned, painted and carpeted, we settled in, and the house came alive again.

I spent hundreds of hours in the garden, trying to make everything right, but the last few years of neglect, had taken their toll.  I felt sad for my aunt, and for all of the pretty little blooming things that had died along with her. I did my best to revive what was left, to bring back the love that the house, and the yard had enjoyed for so long.

As much as I dread packing, I don't feel bad about moving, as I know that I'm leaving my aunt and uncle's legacy in good hands.  A year ago, we celebrated the Christening of my first granddaughter, twenty-six years after we celebrated her mother's baptism, in this very house. It comforts me to know that my daughter, the new lady-of-the-house, has cherished, and loved it since she was a little girl.

A few days before she died, in what was our final good-bye, my aunt confessed she would miss me. I left the house that day, never really expecting to return, but not knowing what was around the bend.  For years I played those awful moments over and over in my head, picturing the pitifully sad expression on her face, as she mouthed those last words.

Next month, as I close the door behind me, I'll imagine my aunt looking down from above with a smile on her face, the space that she loved, now filled with the voices of children. I know there's nothing that would have pleased her more than to know, that the tale of her family continues.

With a deep breath, the house sighs and says, "I'm happy."

The two little signs in the photos above, were left in the house after my uncle died.  They're a perfect reflection of the people that lived here.

1 comment:

  1. ugh, I'm a mess of tears. such a mix of joy and sadness in this post!

    a toast to the new adventures for you and for the Miller's!