Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Tale of Eight

March 31, 2004.  That was the day it became ours.  That was the day we signed our names for the wood paneling, the stained carpet, the ugliest bathroom in the world...

I remember pride.  I remember excitement.

I remember the smell - Oh, the smell - like someone took month old kitty litter and crammed it up our noses...

I remember the carpet cleaner, bleeding black sludge into the shower stall as I emptied the contents of a once-over from the hallway.  I remember how I cleaned and I cleaned but that hallway was never really clean (until I ripped out the carpet and almost suffocated from the rotten underlay)...

I remember the screened in porch.  The creaking door.  The carpet (yes carpet - on the porch - terrible grass green indoor/outdoor stab you in your wounded sole carpet) that wept the odor of pets unloved...

I remember the horror story we built around the upstairs bedroom.  How the lock was on the outside.  How the ghost of that poor child must have permeated these very walls with howls of torture...

I remember the work.  The sweat.  The love poured out to make a home...

Eight years is longer than a lot of marriages.  This place - this house - this home - it will always be a part of me...

Friday, March 30, 2012

For Sale: One Heart

We have leapt.  And I don't know where we'll land.  And I'm terrified.  And stupidly excited.

We discussed chattels.  Commission.  Price.

I was totally fine.  I signed confidently.

And then Scott came in and said, "Hey, look at the front lawn..."

And I saw this:  

And it should have said: "FOR SALE: ONE HEART"

And I felt a swell of panic.

And a little off balance.

But then I hitched my belt and tally-ho, let's get this place sold!

So here's to a stressful, undetermined amount of time of loosing my mind trying to keep things clean, vacating at the drop of a hat for the weird strangers who are going to peek in my closets, "Liam, why, oh why, can't you just PICK UP YOUR SOCKS???!!!", and general craziness that will leave me with grey hair and bleary eyes.

And if it turns out that the grass isn't greener on the other side - that dream we've built up in our heads - I swear to high heaven, I'll scream so loud and so long and so high that the one-eyed-man will have to chase his one good eye all the way down Queen Street because my rant will pop it right out of his skull!

What?  No.  I'm not stressed.

Monday, March 26, 2012

These Walls

These walls are hung in memory - thick quilts of hushing babies and rocking tantrums and snuggling stories and tears that ebb in the wake of a tickle.

These walls are heavy with our story.  With the stories of others before us.  With history that we can't touch - reaching back to the laying of brick and mortar in 1903.

We have poured our heart in here, moulding out a place of our own, dressing it in love - because it is possible to love a place - to set it like a seal upon our souls...

These walls were dressed in turmoil - so dark and foggy - that first time we came through the door.  But it became ours in that moment and paint splattered in my hair as I rolled my claim upon that darkness, forging it for light - for a place to drape the word: HOME.

And it is home.  And it could be forever.  I could grow old here.

But we suffer for space.  For room to play and grow and forage.  For a tree in which to build a secret.  For a field in which to run.  For each to have a place of their own, a door to seal on their own private thoughts...

There is the offering of my childhood home and now I dream of raising my children where I was raised.  And if the time is right I pray for someone to come within these walls and love this home as I have and do and build their own memories upon my own - because whether I leave or whether I stay, this house will alway have my fingerprints upon it - coiled wreaths of the for better and worse I have breathed within these aged walls.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Finding The Solace

As night fell around us, smelling of immature spring and wishful thinking, we pushed along the highway, racing yellow lines to the end of a life - to the goodbye that waited among halls hung in dying.  Her eyes found mine, there when we arrived at her side for the farewell that burned behind our own eyes.  She squeezed weakly with fingers that had so often done for me what I rarely did for her - washed and fed and cleaned and held and I thought, how rare - the beauty in these hands, in this death that waits over the bed, these nails so clean, hand wrinkled with so many stories told.

She had heaven on her mind when she said it was enough - no more of these tubes that helped with the living - no more of this helplessness and weakness and fighting and I thought if I could just catch a bit of her- the her that sparked and burned - I could breath it back on her and hold on for just a little longer...

I fought through the singing, gathering around her in a love circle, pouring out Amazing Grace with our grief-weakened voices, cracking over syllables and refusing to look up when my sister couldn't sing past her tears and my father choked on his own sorrow - looking only to her and her slack mouth and thinking how desperately I missed the way she used to smile...this night would be her last...

I kissed her and she was like plastic.  I told her how I loved her.  I would not say goodbye.  I said, "I'll see you again soon" and I meant in heaven because this world was closing from her even as I caught the three tired squeezes against my fingers that I knew were to say she loved me too...

I felt weak and weepy as morning broke and the earth kept turning even though love might already be gone from it's atmosphere.  I waited for the call, for the shrill of the phone that would turn panic in my belly and prayers shooting to the skies that this not be the news I knew too well was coming.

Grandma and a wee Liam
I felt I was a well, a spring of memory and heartache ready to overflow it's bounds, pouring out a brine for the beauty of her legacy and I wanted only to remember her like this: the vibrant, playful, forgiving, joy-filled woman who chased me around the side of the old farm house with a badminton racket because I teased her for her ears - those big, MAD Magazine flappers that I myself proudly boast on either side.

And the call came.  And I felt my heart lift with what could be nothing but a miracle - this pulling through - this defying all odds - this faith of her's that could move mountains...And I could suddenly breath again and think about tomorrow and games of Lost Heir and maybe this time I could make her the apple pie...

Yesterday, I stood beside her bed once more and leaned in to hear the whisper of her voice, the sweetness of all her love poured over me in the blessing that I don't have to let go yet and I wanted to capture it all - the life she yet has, the way Grandpa wears this miracle in his smile, the faith that stirs through the room like wind that pollinates the world with hope...

How could I have taken one moment of it for granted?  We have but a little while.  May we be loath to ever squander it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I never knew her to be old.  I knew her to be perfect and ageless.  To see her - this her that couldn't possible be her - leaves me feeling helpless and broken, the mocking of mortality cackling in the gurgle of the tubes entering her body everywhere, leaving her unable to talk or move.

She seems startled when I walk in, eyes widen and hand frantic to grasp my own as I stumble over a lame excuse of life so busy and I wish I came sooner and she's all apology and weak squeezing.

Truth is, I was terrified to come - still fresh from the last time I stood over a hospital bed - vigil that ended in death.

But there's life in her yet - she the stranger who lies among machines that prove she's alive.

I try to talk to her but I don't know what to say.  I tell her of the kids.  Of her great-grandchild's birthday party.  Of the boys and their video games.  She rolls her eyes.  Ah, there she is!

I remember her young.  Red hair dimmed with the raising of 5.  Quick with her love and rich with life - letting me eat the maple syrup with a spoon and never letting me win Boggle.  Her home was magic and laughter and rubber boots that smelled of the barn.

I think of all this as I look at her and it's hard to connect the two.  The only thing the same is the love I have for her and I tell her as I say goodbye, kissing her forehead like she would kiss mine in childhood while I snuggled beneath the quilt in the front bedroom at the old farmhouse.  "I'll tell the kids you say hello," I say.

She drops my hand and makes a circle with her arms, lifting them off the sheet, touching her fingers together.

"You want to hug them?" I ask.

She nods weakly and I assure her that I'll hug the stuffing out of them for her.

Her eyes are already closing as I leave and I'm desperate to have her back the way I know her, perfect and ageless - Grandma forever.