“Would you like to take a look inside?” he asked.
We looked back at him, surprised.
“It’s empty right now. My former tenants moved out and I’m doing some repairs before the new ones move in. Go ahead,” he said “take a look around.”
We were standing in front of my grandparents’ old home – the home where my mother grew up from 1922 until sometime around 1950. I had never been here, knowing it only from blurry black and white photos taken in the 1940’s.
Do I want to take a look inside? Do I want to see where my mother slept and played? Of course I do.
Even though the house is two stories and looks large from the street, it is actually quite cozy inside. I enter from the screened porch, the front door opening into a small sitting room with a smaller bedroom and tiny bathroom to the right and the dining area and kitchen behind me. Those four rooms make up the lower floor. A steep and narrow staircase leads upstairs to a bedroom in the front and smaller bedroom behind. The bedrooms in this home are places to sleep – nothing more. Another set of narrow, scarily steep steps lead to a dank and dark basement that runs the length of the house – room for laundry, grandma’s canning jars and a long workbench. That’s it – a house that, by today’s standards, would be built for two (with the addition of a half bath) and back then held six – grandma, grandpa, mom and my three aunts and uncles.
My grandmother’s huge garden, her pride, has long since disappeared – replaced by austere grass. The house is no longer white and the neighbors have changed, but I was given the chance to see my mother’s family home.
We’re here, in this small Midwestern town, to bury my mother’s ashes. Finally, she’s allowed to rest – at the foot of her parent’s grave. For the first time, I’m seeing where she grew up, where she played, where she went to school and, eventually, where she met my father.
We have brought my mother home.