I looked around the empty rooms. The built in shelves emptied of books, shadows dancing on newly exposed hardwood floors, our voices echoing under the high ceilings, I’d never seen this house empty. Packers and movers had filled and moved box after box the last three days. We had rolled up the rugs and taken the trash to the transfer station, and now it was time to turn the key in the door for the last time. How could this tiny house hold so many memories?
I needed to take one last look around. I leaned into the kitchen. It looked so big without the table and chairs, but the “brick” flooring; red checkered wall paper and curtained windows still looked cheery in the afternoon sunshine. Closing my eyes I could see my grandmother by the stove, stirring the big pot of chili she always had waiting when we arrived for our visits. Beyond the kitchen I knew there would be pies and other goodies on the enclosed back porch. In later years my Uncle’s tea pot collection had graced the area beneath the window. Best of all, with my eyes still shut, I could almost hear the chatter around the table nights as we “little” ones lay in the front room going to sleep. That’s how we learned all about our family history and the amazing history of the small Indiana town where my parents had met and married, where my grandparents had set up house, where I had visited every year of my life.
Taking a step back into the main room of the house I glanced over to where the piano had been until just a few hours before. That piano, with my Uncle at the keyboard filled that little house with music for as long as I could remember. I had even tickled those keys from time to time. My eye’s moved to the empty bookshelves, we are a family of avid readers, I think it’s in our genes, summers I had pulled books off those shelves to enjoy during some of the time we spent visiting my grandmother. She had worked for Donnelly’s publishing company, and so the shelves’ contents flowed into other areas and rooms over the years. I sent up a little prayer that the future occupants would refill those shelves with new tomes.
The sun splashed across the front room as I peeked through the doorway. This room had transformed many times over the years, primarily a bedroom when I was younger it had become a living room once my Uncle had moved in. I could see the rose bush covered in pink blossoms outside the front windows, late for summer roses, but flourishing none the less.
I didn't walk into the bedroom, my grandmother had taken her long braid down in there every night, my Uncle and Aunt had been born in that room. I thought I’d seen enough, I could tell it was time to close the front door, turn the key and finally walk away. I didn't make it to the door before my eyes blurred and filled. Bob wrapped me in a big hug. He didn't try and stop the flow, tears slipped silently down my cheeks and onto the floor. So, I left those tear drops on the hardwood, turned the old doorknob, and put the key into the lock, I wasn't just closing the door, I was closing an era.
I stood on the front porch and looked at the big tree just beyond the railing; I had played under that tree many times. Memories of running off the porch and to the end of the lot to wave to the engineers, who blew the train whistle as they clickity clacked down the tracks behind the house, made me smile. Despite the late fall weather some branches still held their yellow leaves, and they whispered goodbye as the wind blew through them and rustled the golden blanket surrounding the trunk. Walking to the car a big brown squirrel chattered down at me, I felt like he was letting me know he’d be around to watch over things. We pulled off the lot one last time and drove past the street sign on the corner, I watched the house grow smaller and vanish. I knew at that moment that I’d never really leave 710 Tuttle Avenue behind, I had packed up and taken all the wonderful memories with me, and they were safe in my heart.
I'm a wife, mother and grammie who loves time with family and friends. I love learning new things, visiting new places, and making each day count, because moments matter and I don't want to waste mine.