Like the fields where I chased butterflies in my childhood, the mountain my late husband liked to climb as a boy, the beach where our children paddled and fished, our house didn’t belong nearly as much to me as I belonged to it. I’d worked hard in the garden but the roots of the eucalyptus trees bordering our property drank the water greedily whenever I watered, leaving little moisture to nourish our plants and grass.
I often wonder whether a house has eyes and ears. If only it could tell me all it has witnessed. Maybe that depends on how I ask and how much I am willing to hear.
Being an early riser, I often sat on a step with our black Belgian Shepherd at my feet. The dog and I bundled up under a rug to ward off the chill and I found myself replaying the past in my head when our three children were getting ready for school, rushing about noisily, dressing fast, grabbing their schoolbags while eating breakfast on the run. The house, like my heart, was filled with thoughts of my lovely, happy family. In the stillness on the stairs, it was as if I could hear them all over again.
Then I recalled a weekend – it was as if I could hear them all over again. They were singing , listening to loud music, talking and laughing. I heard the thud of footsteps in the bedrooms above me, showers running, toilets flushing, phones ringing, doors banging, voices rising and falling like wind through the trees. I heard lots of laughter filling their rooms and overflowing into a thousand empty spaces.
This house held countless memories from times gone by: times of want and times of plenty, good times and b ad times, happy times and sad times. Our house was a memory bank that my family had invested in beginning in the days when our children were young, hoping for a good return someday when we grew older.
I felt rich. I stood up and climbed the stairs to our bedroom to get dresses and start another day. Time passed, and the house rang with the sound of our grandchildren’s voices