My mother’s father lived in a house across from a sleepy high school for all the time I knew him.
It was a basic house. A comfortable home.
Enough room to raise a family and provide the privacy he valued and craved.
White house. Green trim.
Small porch front and center that occasionally held a hanging pot in the hot summer and always a plastic Santa during the holidays. Cars slowed to admire it’s shining face. As a child I loved that shining face. Watching my children crane their necks in excitement I found comfort in his shining face.
Even as it faded red to pink.
Less detail and more pleasant memory.
To walk through the door was to embrace the familiar.
Stairs leading up. To kitchen where a heavy table dominated.
To the living room where a crystal bowl of peppermint candies lived.
Tv and armchairs connected by worn green carpet and anchored with a horrid golden couch. Uncomfortable to both sight and seat.
Stairs leading down. To a workshop that smells of wood stain and contented memories.
A tidy bedroom I rarely saw.
I loved that house. Felt safe in that house.
First memories littered with awkward hugs and rough pats. Sleigh bells ringing outside my window on a Christmas morning as a man who showed little affection offered a three-year old delight.
Easter dinners and Sunday dinners. Burnt and dry.
BQQ sandwiches and cold Coca-Cola.
Tart buttermilk in a glass packed with coarse yellow bread.
And the window. A sliding glass door that framed the moments spent sitting and eating. Broad back against the magic glass that looked over a pretty back yard.
Heavily shaded by generous maple trees. Grown tall, blocking large patches of sky. Their scent mingling with the thick grass and compost carefully tended for the fenced sliver of earth that received too little light yet still managed to produce a crop each year.
A thick rock wall, built by hand. Wide enough to walk on. Delighted hours of tracing rough mortar, pressing soft cheeks against the cool stone. Stones moved from the ground by a young man, with a strong back.
Determined to provide for his family.
Determined to build a family.
The same strong back that sat framed in the window of my memories.
The window that looked out over the pretty back yard.
Small enough. Large enough.
Littered with memories.
Memories of uncles who pushed swings and sprayed water and played adoring.
Memories of love expressed in sleigh bells and raked leaves and swings hanging from a low branch.
Memories of relationships growing, and understanding dawning, and respect earned.
Watching a third generation find an avenue to unfiltered affection.
Memories of decisions made and laughter lost and the end of a brilliant mind.
A mind like mine.
Careful. Focused. Methodical.
Forever a piece of my home.
The most practical piece of me.
The white house, with green trim. Magic window and maple trees.