A heavy front door, solid oak, with a brass medallion door knob nestles in a small brick entry and waits, an invitation to the past.
Kachina dolls, some very good amateur oil painting and portraits of my aunt, uncle and father in their younger years greet me fondly as I come inside. They are old friends, as familiar as any I’ve known.
A low slung sofa, white with turquoise cushions, looking like it was nicked from the Mad Men set. It wasn’t. I spent many a Thanksgiving/Christmas/occasional weekend curled in it’s corner, reading Eight Cousins, Trixie Belden and the occasional Nancy Drew. It was an unholy temptation to rest my feet on the kidney-shaped birch coffee table, but fear of my grandmother kept me honest.
The kitchen with it’s goldenrod walls, copper appliances and formica counters, the origin of many a holiday feast. I can almost smell the turkey. The breakfast table and wheeled chairs, where I would share an occasional bowl of granola with my grandpa sit empty now.
The portrait of John Wayne in the hallway still smiles enigmatically.
It’s all being packed away now. My aunt and uncle, short a sibling, sort through the remains of their parents long life together. We laid my grandfather to rest this weekend, a short year after saying goodbye to my grandmother. They both outlived their youngest child, and as is usually the case, it cost them greatly. Neither were the same after my dad died. Their grief aged them in a way time had failed to achieve.
It was a beautiful ceremony. The memorial was a testimony to his influence in the small town of Taft; the graveside, in honor of his long military service. It was heart-breaking, especially when my brother struggled to eulogize a man that deeply influenced him. We all cried, for the loss of the man himself and the remaining shadows of grief we felt when his son and wife left our lives.
The house has remained virtually the same since I began having memories of it. Pictures older than I tell me it was like that long before I came into their lives. I walked through it this weekend, remembering my grandmother having a cocktail and laughing about a bridge night anecdote. She was a society wife in a town with no society to speak of, but they made their own. Everything the same, except the minutiae. I ducked into my grandfather’s bathroom and cried a little when the tin of Bag Balm that had always graced his counter was absent. That stupid green tin was the final straw. He was really gone, his final flight complete.
I’ll miss that house, with all it’s memories, almost as much as I miss the people that made it so special.