This Old House

Front Door

This old house is made of wood and paint and memories, but
Lately, the sense that our time here will end has hovered on my shoulder,
A faint melancholy of knowing that one day I will walk out one last time,
Hand the keys to someone who won’t know any of it.

That spot in the dining room wall where a teenage
Tantrum left a divot in the plaster from a chair tossed in anger.
Where the same child discovered the internet, found a girl
In California and talked up a huge long-distance phone bill.

Where B&B guests gathered from around the world
To chat at the table over Bismarks and sausages and coffee on
Their brief swing through this old house, and our lives.

Where twice we buried old dogs who were family,
Who stayed close when we were sick, who protected the boys,
Who were always ready to go, go, go, into the woods,
Anywhere, as long as they were with us,
Until they could not go any more.

Where five times we lay awake, staring at the ceiling filled with dread,
While death passed close enough to feel the foul wind from its wings,
Where we discovered what we were made of, finally.

Where the clatter and tumult of children filled us with their growing up
Practicing the tuba,
Taking karate lessons, staying out later than we wanted,
Falling in and out of love, suffering through high school and college,
Facing serious things, then more, and learning how to survive and thrive.

This old house may be just wood and paint and memories, but
We’re also merely the most recent caretakers, and our time will end.
It held us close, demanded our devotion, shared its secrets, kept some hidden,
Let us walk the rocky, unpaved path to the future, and still kept us
Grounded in the paint and the wood and the past
Of others who came before.

Others who, when their time came, reluctantly handed the keys
To us, letting go, realizing we would never know it all,
But trusting this old house would take us in
For our all-too-brief time to live in the mysteries of
Wood, and paint.
And memory.

10 Replies to “This Old House”

  1. This post moved me to tears. We have lived 37 good and bad years in our home and know the clock is ticking for us too. Your post is a good analogy for life… It is filled with good and bad and it is temporary.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had the same feeling when the home of my childhood was sold after both my parents had died. This feeling that the new owners would never appreciate the many things my father had made and repaired. Never know how old the stones were at the long path up to the entrance. I sometimes pass by it and it has changed, has another atmosphere all the way out to the street where I stand for a short moment not to be seen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The house is 134 years old, and we’ve always had the sense of being just the current caretakers for the old girl. We’re in the historic district, and had the benefit of someone else’s research that gave us the full history of each family that has lived here, all the way back to the first owner, an elderly widow. Some of the families lived here for more than 35 years each, and knowing the whole story made us feel that we were just writing a new set of chapters, but that, at some level, the house didn’t belong to us, but we to it. Maybe I’m too sentimental, but these old Victorians have a certain presence that comes from being representatives of another age. Those people were optimists, and built for the ages, thinking they’d always be around. Ironic, but still, we benefit and feel the obligation to not do anything to let the team down, so to speak. 🙂


      1. I feel so honored that you give me this lovely answer and the historical background of the exceptional house. I saved the link to your story in a draft as I could write about the feelings I get when I have to move and the necessary changes that have to be decided

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Stunning and so real, the last house I left 35 years ago, I broke my Heart crying, it is where our First Child, First Son was conceived where after being Born in a Hospital 1979 this was the House he came home to, where he took his first steps, where he first said “Dada”. The House where I was so happy with my Husband, the House where we made love and both were happy – like yours so full of memories. I hated moving to the new House, but my Second Son was Conceived and born – then when all went wrong and not much happiness – oh well we still had our happy memories.

    Love your Blog, love this – thank you.


    1. Thank you. What’s so hard is to have the memories and to let them warm us, and still realize that everything is temporary, even the good. And so also, thankfully, the bad. Celebrating the temporary is a constant challenge for me. I want to clutch things too hard, sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

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