I backed against the lavender-colored wall in the bedroom and slid down to pile myself in a heap on the floor. It looked so much bigger when it was empty. Big enough for two sisters’ twin beds, a desk, a bookcase, a dresser, and a chest. It was truly amazing what we’d fit in the room. No wonder it seemed like we were always falling on top each other.
I’d been through the whole house. The family/laundry room in the basement, the cubby off the downstairs hallway that served as dad’s personal space. The joint living room/kitchen area, three bedrooms, and two baths. All empty. All hollow sounding. I’d been asked to check the house out before I turned the keys over to the realtor. I was glad I was the last one to ever be inside.
As I sat there on the carpeted floor, I was feeling KALEIDOSCOPICAL, flipping from one scene to another in fast rotation. In my mind I could still see the Beatles posters taped all over the walls of this room. Thank God my sister was so much younger than me or I’m sure it would have been all out war!
I remembered my brother lying on his bed in the next room staring at the ceiling at night after mom let him stick up those plastic stars, the ones that gathered in the sunlight by day and shined pert near half the night. He loved watching the stars. I never quite understood how he got from there to dealing drugs…
My favorite room had been the family room with the fireplace. How many cheap dates, I wondered, did my hubby and I have in front of that fire roasting hot dogs and marshmallows? The kitchen one December night when we sneaked my brother into town from Ohio where he’d fled to get away from his druggie friends. He just opened the patio door and came strolling in. And my folks cried and cried. The living room with mom and dad and the five grandkids gathered round them in front of the Christmas tree passing out presents on those rare occasions they came back home for Christmas from being snowbirds in Arizona.
And my favorite times out on the patio where dad and some of his friends would hold an impromptu concert on a Saturday night with their guitars and drums as neighbors came from up and down the street to listen and sing along.
There were other memories, of course. Not so pleasant. But this was my last time in the home we’d moved into from Ohio when I was 12. I wanted to hold onto the good ones now that mom and dad were gone. I’d already said my goodbyes to the neighbors, especially my folks’ best friends who lived a few houses down. Now I needed to drop the keys off to the realtor so the new owners could start moving in.
The kaleidoscope in my mind slowed and finally came to a halt. I hurried downstairs and out the front door, pulling it shut behind me. As I got in the car and gave the house one last look wanting to remember everything, I couldn’t help but see mom watching out the kitchen window. She never came out to say goodbye, just pulled the curtains open and watched us go.
And there was dad standing in front of the house with his foot propped up on the brick flower box festooned with hundreds of petunias, toothpick hanging out the side of his mouth, a sad little smile on his face that said he knew his time was drawing to a close. He waved and waved as I honked and drove off hoping wherever he was he could hear me as we played out our usual goodbye ritual one last time.