Every spring when the snowball bush and the poppies begin to bloom, I think of Mrs. Grimsic. I wonder how old was she when she planted these flowers. And did anyone help her in the flower garden, or was it time she spent by herself to sift through her thoughts?
When Mrs. Grimsic passed away, her son was left to sell the family home. Built in 1950, new construction was not nearly as glamorous as it can be today. As soon as the basement was finished, all five Grimsics moved in while the rest of the house was completed.
At least that’s the story Mrs. Barlow told us after we moved into the Grimsic house. The Barlows built their home next door around the same time, so I accept Mrs. Barlow’s version of history without question.
It’s been twelve years since Mrs. Grimsic’s home became our home. Back then, Mr. Barlow was still mowing his grass next door and maintaining his impeccable yard. He’s been gone for a handful of years now.
When he passed away, his full grown sons — old enough to be grandfathers themselves — picked up where he left off. The lawn is always mowed, the old fashioned Christmas decor appears every December, and Mrs. Barlow’s sons always have a wave for us. Much like their father did.
Earlier this spring, Mrs. Barlow passed away, too.
I took my little girl to the estate sale on a mission to buy one of her tea cups. I didn’t expect to hold back a flood of tears as we browsed through her things. The books, the record collection, the jewelry, and the old fashioned Christmas decorations were evidence that she really was here just a few weeks earlier.
We found a set of three tea cups and saucers at the estate sale. Scenes of a post-kindergarten summer tea for my daughter and her two best friends immediately appeared in my mind’s eye. Sipping tea out of Mrs. Barlow’s tea cups and giggling all the while.
That I have a daughter old enough for a tea party with friends reminds me that in a blink of an eye, the next generation will be sifting through my belongings looking for a hidden treasure among the seemingly meaningless mess.
“I search in skinny limbs and freckled noses and tangled hair, but my babies are gone. They have been replaced with children who need to reintroduce themselves almost every day, so quickly do they change and grow.” ~ Christie Purifoy, Roots and Sky
When a soul leaves the earth, it can leave behind such a mess. Relationships and mortgages unfinished. Things, once loved, piled high to be sifted through by people who couldn’t possibly know the memories they hold.
The first year we lived in our house, I found a box of handmade snowflake ornaments in Mrs. Grimsic’s storage closet. That’s when I first felt as if we were living in her house. Making our family memories in the home she had built for hers.
Our secondhand home.
To honor the life she created for her family in her home, now our home, each December I place one of her handmade snowflake ornaments on the Christmas tree. And every time I do, I remember that this will not always be my home.
One day down the road a stranger will live in the very same space I do today. Although the scenery may change, the spaces will remain — the spot where I spent so many hours rocking my first born, the place where the couch is worn because I land there each evening, the place I close my eyes to soak up the sun on the patio my husband put in shortly after we moved here.
That stranger will likely never know the memories created in this home.
Countless times over the past twelve years we’ve talked about moving to a roomier place.
But we’re still here.
And it’s still home.
“Home is a place we measure with our own two feet. And home is the place that measures us. Home is the place that names us and the place we, in turn, name. It feeds us, body and soul, and if we are living well, we feed it too.” ~Christie Purifoy, Roots and Sky