Like the fields where I chased butterflies when I was a child, the mountain my husband climbed as a boy, or the beach where our children paddled and fished in tide pools, our house didn’t belong to me as much as I belonged to it. I’d worked in the garden with eucalyptus trees bordering on our property with roots that drank the water meant for the plants, and in the evenings, sat on the patio with the family to enjoy the results of my efforts.
Does a house have eyes and ears? If only our house could tell me all it has witnessed. Maybe it depends on how much I ask and how much I am willing to hear.
I am an early riser, and I remember one morning in particular. I chose to sit on the landing that was sufficiently large to house me and our black, Belgium Shepherd, Bonnie. We cuddled together for half an hour or so, me in my pajamas, the dog warming me as we bundled up together under a rug to ward off the chill. And I found myself replaying the past in my head. I returned to the time my three children were getting ready for school, rushing about noisily, packing their schoolbags and eating breakfast on the run. The house, like my heart, was filled with thoughts of our happy family.
In the stillness on those stairs, it was as if I could hear them all over again. I returned to a weekend and they were singing, listening to loud music, talking and 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 laughter filling the rooms and overflowing into a thousand empty spaces.
Our house held countless memories from other times, times of want and times of plenty, good times and bad times, happy times as well as sad times. Our house was a memory bank that my late husband and I invested in beginning when our children were young, hoping for a good return someday when we grew older.
Starting to shiver on those stairs with Bonnie at my feet, I felt rich. I stood up and went upstairs to get dressed and start another day.
We sold that house in the year 2003 due to my late husband’s ill-health and bought an apartment that now rings with the sound of our grandchildren’s voices.