Friday, December 12, 2014

Memories

Last week I made a list of all the places I have lived in my 44+ years. I knew it was a lot, but I was surprised when they were all written out, that I have lived at 22 different places. The longest I've ever lived anywhere was the house my Mom still lives in. I spent 13 years there. I've owned 2 of my own houses and have lived in each of them for 9 years. With no plans to move ever again, our current home is likely to be the one that will top out at the longest in just a few more years.


I have memories from most of the places I have lived, except the earliest ones, and a couple from the early ‘90s when my memories of most things are sketchy at best. The memories run the gamut of emotions from happy to sad, grief to anger, joy to hopelessness.

But the one house that holds the most memories for me is the one at which I never lived. My Grandparents house.


It wasn't very big and was kind of dark.  There was no backyard to speak of, so I mostly played in the driveway or under a huge blue spruce that had to be cut down years ago.  The only shower was a stand alone in the unfinished basement. It was a pretty creepy basement with open stairs, a painted cement floor, a dangling light bulb and cubby holes that lead into an abyss of darkness. When I was little I loved to hang out down there with my Grandfather. He had been a boxer in his youth and still had a lot of equipment in the basement. I would have a go at the heavy bag and try desperately to lift the big heavy weights with him.

When I was growing up my Grandparents lived there with their 2 youngest sons, their 2 oldest children having left the nest 20 years earlier. There were 3 bedrooms upstairs, all off a small hallway that wasn't wide enough to allow 2 people to pass each other. When my parents and I visited for the weekend, everyone would get displaced, making room for us – I would bunk in bed with Grandma, Grandpa got the couch and one uncle gave up his room to my parents and  slept on the floor in the living room.


We spent almost all holidays and most weekends at my Grandparent’s house. Often my Mom and I would make the hour drive on our own while my Dad stayed home and worked on the weekends. I remember being curled up on the couch Christmas eve when Santa came to the door; waking up early Christmas morning and my Grandma sneaking down to get me a bun to eat in bed in the hopes of giving everyone an extra few minutes of sleep. Sunday dinners were always big affairs, served at one o’clock. Every single meal included mashed potatoes, mashed by my Grandfather with his big strong hands.

By the middle of next month the house will be emptied of all of my Grandparent's things.  The house has been sold.  My Grandpa passed away more then 20 years ago and my Grandma has lived there by herself since then.  Until she couldn't anymore.  My oldest uncle found a wonderful nursing home that can look after her daily needs and she moved there this past summer.  It took a while to get the house ready to show and the market isn't the greatest, so it took a while to sell.  But now it has.

I'm glad that I was able to have one last visit to the house this past summer.  My Grandmother had already moved and the packing up had started.  The house was eerily quiet.  Quiet enough for the memories to wash over me as I stood in a doorway or gazed down the hall.  There were still pictures on the shelves, the same pictures that had been there since I was little.  New ones had been added as the Great-Grandchildren came along.  Every sight, smell and sound brought forth another memory.   The weird noise the bathroom lock made, the squeak of the third step that meant I could never sneak in late without someone hearing me.

I live to far away to be able to help my family with packing up the remaining memories.  I will cling to the photographs that I have showing carpet that never changed, outdated but comfortable furniture and kitchen cabinets that housed a dishwasher that was never used.  I am glad for all the memories that I have and I hope that whoever lives there next can make their own awesome memories too.
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