I asked Mom for Aunt Anna's address, even though it was unlikely she would acknowledge me or respond. But I needed closure; I needed to go into the farmhouse. She said to wait and see if I could come with them when the lawyer gave them a date and time to finish getting the rest of their things out.

A quiet event, me, Mom, and Dad, right? Well, Aunt Shirley invited everyone. Which was fine, I didn't mind so much, but I didn't want anything. I just wanted to be there. Just for a little while. Walk through all the rooms, say goodbye to them.

I couldn't even drive up the road without choking up. I'm over 380, but it's still hard. And bridging that hill, god.

Everyone was rushing everywhere, and I felt like I was in the way most of the time. It was so perverse, so wrong that we should have to scavenge during this two-hour window, and only then. It was too quick, too everything.

All I had to do was step across the threshold and I was crying. I'm too big, I grew up, I don't fit in the house anymore. And it holds none of the warmth it once did. There is literally crap everywhere, and while it's true Grammie was a packrat, everything has been dissected by Aunt Anna, first and foremost, and then her children, and then us. I could immediately tell what rooms had been gutted for what they were worth, Grammie never had the attic clean.

I was so distraught through the whole thing I only have about half the pictures I took; I could kick myself. I know a lot of other people took pictures though.

The woodstove in the dining room. Not crackling, but cold and rusty; lifeless. No snow clothes hanging by it, no snow clumps sizzling to steam on its surface.

The stairs, from the second floor to first.

I will have to explain this one, and likely won't be able to without choking up: one day I found these rollerskates in the storage shed, and proceeded to stress Grammie to the max by rollerskating around the kitchen and wash room. After that day, she hid the rollerskates, and I was never able to find them again. Until today. I'm glad I at least still have this picture, this dirty closet wouldn't have meant anything to anyone else.

I couldn't focus for most of the time; everything was loud around me. Dad was entirely focused, and he had to be. Lawyers and legalities forbid he be allowed in the one place that was everything.

I ended up with the handful of things I randomly found, no rhyme or reason to them really. I found a hat in her bedroom, a tiny basket I was looking for for my car, just stupid things, and the things people pressed upon me. All the paintings were already off the walls or claimed; I might've liked a familiar scene. I half thought about taking one of the scruffy, disgusting rugs that she had in the living room. Not practical though.

I guess I don't really want anything, other than my childhood back, my jostled memories intact. I had a revelation from right field the other day, and it made me feel somewhat guilty: here I am, out of college, being blue collar and taking care of these animals at the shelter; feeding, mucking, tending . . . if I didn't have such a difficult teenage life and a better relationship with Dad, things could have gone so much differently. I know it's silly, but maybe if I had known then what I know now, I would've stepped up. It was too much work for two people, but Dad and Grampie did it.

It was just an idle thought, but one that brought me sadness anyway. It's stupid to think such things in retrospect, but that farm isn't going to be the S. Farm much longer. Some rich fuck is going to undercut what we're asking for and do whatever he wants with it. Demolish it, develop it, take it.

Never to romp, to wander, to sled, to hide, to explore, create mischief, chase cats, step on pincher bugs and ants, to avoid cowpies, to poke at the grain that fell through the cracks, to get lye everywhere, to climb haystacks, never. Never again. Not there.


Mandy Chron said...

Oh honey. The day my Grampi's house in Illinois sold, I felt like my childhood had been discarded with the old gas stove that cooked so many meals for us. The hideous green carpet, the crumbling linouleum floor that held the "secret tile," the water spot on the ceiling shaped like a cow. All of these memories and cherished landmarks, just gone away to someone else, someone who would replace the floors and fix the ceiling, never knowing how much they meant to some kids in Pennsylvania. It was heartbreaking.

But then, I realized. They bought the house, not my memories of it. No one can take away the time my brothers and I played Blindman's Bluff until Ben directed Drew into a mousetrap. Your memories will bring you comfort.

Live your life like it were all in that farmhouse. Remember the the lessons your Grammie taught you, and you will make her proud.

Carry the farm in your heart, and you will always be home. ::HUGS::

D said...

Thank you love.

Anonymous said...

*big hugs*

What else can I say but, I understand, and to stay strong. I still regularly dream of my grandparents' old homestead: walking through Japanese maples on the patio and out the wrought iron gates to the carefully landscaped back yard. A medical professional once suggested that I picture someplace beautiful that I feel the safest when I have panic attacks... I always end up in my grandmother's kitchen or cozy in front of the TV in the den.

Words fail me, my dear; what can I say to comfort you? It will hurt, and hurt like hell, and the closure you desperately seek may or may not find you.

But you are a strong lady, resilient if nothing, and you'll be fine. You'll live through this, regardless of how much your childhood memories ache and throb, and flourish.

D said...

Just looking through the pictures again, realizing I was there and they weren't . . . it's just so strange that they're gone. Like, they're gone. That life for me is gone. I just can't express how that makes me feel, or even what that means for me.

Thanks as always, Ms. Wench. You're truly a sister from another mister.