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This Old House

The old floor creaks as I step in through the familiar door, remembering to catch the screen behind me before it can painfully bark my heels…again.  The old place is eerily quiet and alien in its emptiness.  Yet somehow adding to the alien feeling is my intimate familiarity with the house.

Now it sits abandoned and forlorn.  The sounds of 6 generations echo through the now empty rooms.  I pass the french doors, hanging open and curtainless, leading into my grandparents’ bedroom off the living room.  I walk past the spot in the dining room where I used to lay my sleeping bag when too many grandchildren spent the night.  I take the two-inch step up  into the kitchen that used to be filled with the smell of bacon and hotcakes (Grandpa said pancakes were cold,  hotcakes were hot) in the morning when I spent a weekend here.  I remember sitting at the table for breakfast and Grandpa telling me I needed to go run a comb through that rat’s nest on my head before I ate.

The white gas stove sits in the same place, months have passed since it knew the heat of preparing a meal.  Years have passed since it has been put to use for a large family gathering. The kitchen seems so much bigger without the old breakfast table where we took most meals here.  It reminds me of when we were remodeling the old place when my grandparents moved into it.  I was all of 12 years old.  My Grandma paid me to kingly sum of $100 to come work on the house with my Grandpa all summer.  It was months before Grandpa knew I had been paid.

Missing in the kitchen was the rack where Grandma used to hang her coffee cups, one reading #1 Grandpa with a mustache guard across one side of the cup, one reading #1 Grandma.  The kitchen cabinets stood open and empty, as did the pantry in the corner.  So many good things came from that pantry: homemade red plum jam, home canned sweet pickles and pickled beets.  My stomach remembers too, with the ghost of a sympathetic hunger pang.

I continue onto the back porch, a closed in room that housed the washer and dryer, the lopsided-ness of the century-old house more evident here than anywhere else.  I continue on into the back room.  This is the room where I almost died a couple winters after Grandma and Grandpa moved in.  I had turned the gas space heater too low and the fire went out.  Grandpa smelled the gas from much further away than he should have been able to and came in and saved my life.

The room now sits empty where it had been crowded with 2 beds and a multitude of blankets, boardgames, and dolls, antiques now that had been purchased new for my mother and her seven brothers.  Even my uncle’s hunting trophies of buck heads and his arrow shafts are gone.  The room now looks more like a lean-to attached to the house than a bedroom.

I re-trace my steps through this alien landscape that was once my home even more than where I lived with my parents and sisters.  I look out through the back door into the empty part of the lot where Grandpa had his garden every year.  He kept it until just a few years before they had to go to the nursing home.   The gigantic and beautiful crepe myrtle tree is in bloom in bright pink blossoms.  I remember so many games out in that yard: hide-and-seek, freeze tag, football.  I know that my cousins also had those memories.

I pull myself away from the back door and continue back through the Old Home Place, as Grandpa used to call it.  I head back out the front door, having re-lived enough of my childhood.  I see that Grandma’s rocks are still in the front of the house.  She used to get rocks from everywhere she went.  I still have three Oklahoma rose rocks.  Oklahoma is the only place in the world where sandstone forms in a shape reminiscent of a rose in full bloom.

I walk out the front gate, laughing out loud at myself as I check to make sure Grandpa’s long-dead golden lab, Daisy, doesn’t get out when I open the gate.

Here, then is the image of the rose-rock in case you have never seen it.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. December 5, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Beautiful. It’s like you were there while writing. Made me cry.

  2. March 7, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I do believe he was actually there. Wonderful memories.

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