Musings by Laurean Brooks
Do empty houses get lonely? Do they retain memories of the families who lived in them? Have you noticed how quickly a house deteriorates after the last family moves out? Below is my one-sided conversation with the house I grew up in. One-sided because the old house was unable to speak.
Old house, what do you hold dear from bygone days? Do you long for the laughter of children, and garbled conversations as our family gathered around your table? Do you miss the sounds of Daddy's Gibson guitar as he strummed and crooned songs like Detroit City and I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry? Or Mama bustling about the kitchen, banging pots and pans, whistling as she prepared our meals?
Do you miss the aroma of bacon and eggs frying in the iron skillet, or the smell of coffee brewing? Do you recall the vanilla scent of a yellow cake baking in the oven? Do you miss the family hovering over the Warm Morning stove to warm our hands on cold days? Or the smell of wood smoke from logs inside the stove?
Did you hear our grumblings when we were handed hoes and straw hats and told to chop grass in the garden? Do you remember our subdued whining on chilly Saturdays when Daddy laid the crosscut saw in the two-wheel trailer hitched to the old Farm-All tractor? He would yell, “Hop on, kids. Let's go cut firewood!”
Do you remember how the old Bantam rooster crowed each morning at the crack of dawn? Or the sound of mother hens clucking to her yellow chicks? Did you hear the hens cackling after they laid eggs?
Do you miss the chirping of katydids and the croaking of frogs outside your windows on summer nights? Or the twinkling stars and the flickering lightning bugs? Do you remember the time Ralph climbed high up in the majestic oak to tie a rope for our Tarzan-type swing? Oh, the hours of sheer delight that rope swing provided as we perfected the art of soaring through the air and arcing around that giant tree!
Did you rejoice with us at birthdays and Christmas? We didn't have much, but we had each other, and we made special memories. Do you recall when Daddy fixed up a second-hand bicycle and painted it blue, for my twelfth birthday? Mama decided I was old enough to bake my own birthday cake. She helped me. When I asked for pink icing, she dropped in red food coloring. Later, we cut a watermelon that Daddy and I had pulled from the vine just after dawn. He put it in the freezer to cool.
Did you weep when brothers Johnny and Ralph left on buses to join the military, then across the ocean to the Vietnam conflict? Do you remember when the letters from Johnny stopped coming and our family knew something was wrong? Do you recall how the months passed as we prayed, holding onto hope that he was still alive, but at the same time refused to vocalize our fears?
Did you shed tears of rejoicing with us when the letter came announcing Johnny was being treated in an overseas hospital for battle injuries, and he would soon be coming home?
Did you cry when each child left—first Johnny, then Ralph, Jewell, me, followed by Paul, and finally Ruthie and Stanley--to make our way in the world? Did you grieve when Daddy died within your walls? Decades later, on that hot, humid day when Mama was moved to an assisted living home, did you know when she would never return? Did you realize you would never again hear the echo of voices?
I sniff back tears as I notice the cobwebs in the corners of your window panes and the zig-zagging cracks in your floor. Musty air invades my lungs. But the stale air does not suffocate me as badly as the hollow sounds of silence within your walls. Walls that once rang with laughter and tears.
Old House, you cannot speak for yourself. But, if I may speak for you, my answer is, "Yes, they do."
My book for this month is: TO TRUST HER HEART, an inspiring romance about a young widow who endures scandal and carries guilt over her philandering husband's death.
As Greg marched toward the door, Amanda yelled, "Get out! And don't come back!"
Two hours later Greg's body was found in his mangled Porche along with that of his young secretary.
Can Amanda forgive herself and Trust Her Heart to love again?