Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Old Homes

For her fortieth, May asked to visit her childhood home. The present owners demurred. How mean is this? A few years ago a lady who lived in our house in the 1970s asked to look around. Touring the rooms brought her to tears, so many ghosts for such a short amount of time. She was seven years old again. I often think about going back to my old home on Hickory Road. Sometimes at night when I can’t sleep I retrace each step, down to the basement, then on to the kitchen, and finally up to my green polka-dotted bedroom.

Laurette sewed my bedspread, curtains, dust ruffle and vanity skirt all from the same fabric: mint green polka dots on a white cotton background. I loved it and I remember how happy she was to do that for me. It just occurred to me last night why: Mom’s first real room, the first one she had all to herself, away from the poverty of her life in Tecumseh, was a bedsit in a private family home. More than once she told me about the beautiful white wicker furniture and the green bedspread. Zen-like peace before people talked of such things.

At the age of six, I achieved something for which my mom had waited twenty-two years: a space of my own, rendered secure by people who loved me. We all want the ability to give our children something that eluded us, or to spare them the grief we encountered along the way. They don’t ask for this. That’s something we have to remember, catching ourselves mid-sentence in the parental harangue of back in the day we didn’t get things handed to us. I’m sure our grandparents heard the same speech as they prepared to walk the ten miles to school.

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