Wednesday, 29 June 2011

76 pt 2 (final return)

A few months ago I posted about the first ever band that I was in - consisting of me, my brother and my grandad - and the concerts (to use the term at its loosest) that we used to perform on Saturday afternoons at the top of the stairs in my grandparents' house. (I hope I've got the apostrophe in the right place there.)

Fun and silliness in abundance was what I remember.

My grandad is long gone, over a decade and a half ago (he would be 100 were he still alive), and the house has been uninhabited for just over 18 months, since my grandmother was hospitalised. She's still around, but the level of care that she needs means that she could never return to that house. I fear, too, that it would unsettle her: somehow, I think, in her addled mind, she has reached some kind of uneasy truce with her present surroundings. Comfortable, but not home: never home.

Nor had I been in the house since she was taken to hospital. No reason to, for one thing, and in my mind I now pictured it as an empty shell. I thought little about the residue of memories, the ghosts that might lie in wait there should I turn the key, open the door and walk in.

It was put up for sale not so long ago. My mother has been there regularly to check for mail and to keep an eye on things which may need attention. On visiting my mother one weekend, I found myself accompanying her on the short walk up to this empty house to check on a faulty kitchen tap and to see if there was anything I could do to remedy it. There had already been a steady trickle (pun intended) of potential buyers for the property in the weeks leading up to this point.

Kitchen tap repaired (no I don't have any plumbing skills, it wasn't such a technical task), it occurred to me that this would surely be the last time I would ever set foot in the house. I didn't have much time since I would be heading to the station fairly shortly, so I asked my mother to wait just a moment before we left.

I'm glad I had no time to linger, actually, no time to indulge in sentimentality there and then. I was glad just to have a most perfunctory final wander around this house with my mind very much on the present. But I had to stop at the top of the stairs for just one moment longer, and to feel some quiet satisfaction that I was at the exact co-ordinates of the memory described in the post I linked to. Here's where it happened. Three and a half decades ago.


Back down the stairs, back to my mother's, and then off to the station.

The house was sold the following day. I'm glad for that last little opportunity to return.


Fire Byrd said...

Memories are so important especially the ones not allied to a photograph. Glad you had this opportunity to say Goodbye.

Reading the Signs said...

Lovely reflections, Trousers. Heaven is a lifelong house you carry with you everywhere. Osip Mandelstam said (something like) that. Those moment on the top of the stairs will be there always.