Like the fields where I chased butterflies in my childhood, the mountain my husband loved to climb as a boy, or the beach where our children paddled and fished in tide pools, our house didn’t belong to me nearly as much as I belonged to it. I’d worked hard in the garden even though the roots of the glade of eucalyptus trees bordering our property drank the water greedily whenever I watered, leaving little to nourish the grass and plants.
Does a house have eyes and ears? If only it could tell me all it has witnessed. Maybe that depends on how I ask and how much I’m willing to hear.
I am an early riser, so that day I chose to sit on the landing which was sufficiently large to house me and our black Belgium Shepherd, Bonnie. We sat together for half an hour or so; me in my pajamas, the dog warming my feet as we bundled up together under a rug to ward off the chill. I found myself replaying the past in my head. I returned to the time when my three children were getting ready for school, rushing about noisily, dressing fast, grabbing their schoolbags then 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 again. It was the weekend and they were singing, listening to loud music, talking and the girls were giggling. I could hear 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 the rooms and overflowing into a thousand empty spaces.
This house held countless memories from other times; times of want and times of plenty, good times, bad times, happy times as well as sad times. Our house is a memory bank that my late husband and I invested in, beginning in the days when our family was young, hoping for a good return someday when we grew older.
Starting to shiver on those stairs with Bonnie on my feet, I felt very rich. I stood up and went upstairs to get dressed and start another day.
We sold that house in the year 2003 when my husband became ill. We bought an apartment that now rings with the sound of my grandchildren’s voices.