story by Michael Brecke
Yesterday, I received word that contractors had bulldozed my family home. The 125-year-old building had succumbed to age and the settling ground was now no more. I thought about that place that I had called home for over 65 years, home not in the sense of a dwelling place but a receptacle for my past, a place for memories and a place to which I could return to visit and center myself, find my bearings.
Reflections come more easily as one gets older and memories and images sort of float through your consciousness.
A few months ago I had returned to that home after my mother died to clean it out. When the house was empty, I was ready to drive away. My best friend, who had helped me with the process, told me I needed to go back and say goodbye. At first I thought “Say goodbye to what?” Then I realized how important it was to say goodbye. I walked slowly through the house. In each room, images and memories poured over me, wave after wave.
In the kitchen, where family meals were served, I saw the faces of the people who came and ate and received the joy of food well prepared. Relatives and friends would crowd around the table, its every leaf in place. When it was fully extended, there was room for little else. I listened to the stories that were told; stories passed from one generation to the next as food was eaten and glasses were raised.
I walked into the living room, reconfigured several times over the years, a place where the Christmas tree stood. Each Christmas morning, my two sisters would tear at wrapping paper and excitedly display their gifts. When we got a television set there were the Friday night fights with popcorn, and my father commenting on the way in which the fighters threw their punches. It was during one of these nights that he casually remarked that he had enjoyed boxing when he was in the Navy.
There was one bathroom for the five of us, a complication when company came. There was my parents’ bedroom and the three children’s bedrooms in a converted attic space. Even the laundry room was alive with memories and images.
That receptacle of memories is no longer but the memories are there. They linger like a looped video, playing over and over, across time and space, to help me remember.
Write a story about your home whether it still exists or is no longer. Write a story about your memories in the rooms of your home.