Published 8:36 am Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Somebody had to do it. I just wish it didn’t have to be me.

If it is true you can tell a lot about a family by the home they keep, this house spoke volumes.

Someone had spent considerable time taking care of the place, putting things just where they wanted, arranging the interior with a meticulous eye.

The signature of an engaging mother was written all over it. Propped in the corner was something it appeared she had made herself, no doubt taking hours to complete. I wonder if her children had appreciated it?

There was another sign of her hand, the decorating with its exacting personality. Down here the children obviously stayed and played, the randomness of youth adorning its walls.

There appeared to be a lot of activity, the coming and going of bodies. Entering a place once so lively, but now eerily quiet carries a somber atmosphere. You tread softly, as if you can still hear the voices that once were, the conversations heard, the smells once enjoyed.

It spoke of memories. Of good times. Of the rhythm of arrival and birth and departure. Of community. Of life itself.

But now it was quiet. Abandoned. Dead. So many memories, sculptured in solid, fingerprints of a life once lead.

Demolition is such a harsh word. I prefer a “thorough cleansing.” With my being so emotionally involved, perhaps I should have called Bill Harrell, him being good at excavations and the like. But no, the task was mine.

So I started removing what was once painstakingly assembled. My hands were grasping the past and casting it aside. My eyes were watching history itself being relegated to the ash heap. The task would have been much easier had they not been such good neighbors, had I not watched with my own eyes the birth and growth of their family.

But now they were gone, leaving only memories. Empty, silent, haunting memories.

The last of the contents having finally been removed, I stared vacantly at the clouds, a nostalgic wave washing me over. This was it. They were truly gone. I must continue on with my life, no matter the difficulties, no matter the intensity of the loss. Turning, with head down, I walked away, clinging to my one hope, my solitary solace, my lone consolation. It was all I had. “Perhaps, next spring, those purple martins will return.”