Posts Tagged ‘Home’

A few things remained to be dealt with in the tool shed.  I drove over to pick them up and to check the house one last time.

Empty swing and toolshed / workshop


A few boxes of paint, antifreeze and other hazardous materials as well as a box of garbage, two brooms, and a pile of paper plates, bowls and napkins needed to be packed into my car.  The task took too little time leaving me feeling awkward and lost as I stared at the empty hammock, the empty swing and the empty tool shed.  On the other side of the brick wall all the rooms in the house stood empty, screaming to me through the emptiness.

Welcome mat at the French Doors

During our childhood years we were never permitted to use the French Doors, one of our family oddities.  In recent years we have used it more than either the front door or the back door.  We have left a welcome mat for the new owners.

Fireplace and built-in Mahogany Shelves.

I unlocked the door, perhaps for the last time.  I walked through each room, slowly, listening to the sound of my footsteps, listening to the whispers of the past bouncing from wall to wall.  Nothing more to do but to leave and close the door behind me.  One last trip to check the furnace room and the back bathroom provided a relief from the emptiness.  I found a note still tacked to the wall beside the back door, a reminder list Dad made either for himself or for anyone who was caring for the house in his absence.

A useful ladder left in the tool shed

Croquet set for the new family

We left behind a croquet set for the new family. This set belongs with the house.

Having finished my job of checking the house and clearing out the tool shed, I could return home.  My shoes turned to lead and refused to move until I decided I should take one last round of photographs. Click, click …. click, click, click.  I clicked my way through one entire battery and felt grateful that I brought a spare.  Click, click….  I had to stop and couldn’t.

Ancient Nanny Bush

The Nanny Bush.  In spring it delighted us with a dress of green leaves and white flowers.  In the summer it wore only green.  In the autumn the leaves turned to purple to show off the beautiful red berries that clustered on the branches.  When the bushes grew tall enough to be trees, Dad pruned the bottom branches and created a covered terrace to dine beneath.

Hole for the clothesline pole

Path ending at the clothesline

One of my favorite memories is lying on the grass watching my mother hang the wash.  When she was done, I ran between the damp sheets and watched the shapes change through the translucent fabrics as they dried.  My mother always smiled and often whistled as she hung the wash.  Those happy moments at the clothesline inspired the first and only adult novel I have written.

Rocks for baking mud pies

I never tired of baking mud pies.  These rocks, heated by the sun, were my ovens.  The pies were turned out and decorated with violets and buttercups. I began eating flowers, even poisonous flowers, at an early age.  I don’t remember getting sick.

Toolshed / Workshop

Hours upon hours were spent in Dad’s workshop.  Louise  set up an experiment to see how different colored lights effected the growth of plants.  I smashed tiles late into the night to make mosaic maps for history class.  We learned how to use tools.  I made dollhouses for dolls I didn’t have nor want.  It was making the house that was important.  After building small houses I built an elevator that worked, though not very well, using a  small motor from a model car I made.  One summer I rebuilt an engine for a lawn mower a neighbor had given me to earn a bit of money. Dad was always within earshot to help.

Each tool had a home

The tools hung neatly arranged on hinged plywood; tracings marked where each tool belonged.  My favorite tool was the wood plane, not because of what it did, but because of its shape and the way that the metal and wood worked together as a unit.  Of course, I loved the wood shavings as they curled and fell onto the carport floor.  The fragrance of the freshly planed wood was perfume to me.

Carport Fireplace

The carport was our playground.  When we were very young we roller skated round and round for what seemed like hours.  That was before the concrete cracked.  As we grew older we had a ping pong table set up.  I learned to play well enough to beat the high school students I taught in Brookline, Massachusetts many years later.  It was a special high school for delinquent teens.  I made a deal with them to stay after school and play ping pong with every student who behaved himself.  Through my expertise at ping pong (thanks to my dad) I didn’t end up in the hospital like the art teacher who preceded me.

We toasted marshmallows and cooked burgers in the fireplace.  We also burned paper.  When I returned from Germany in 1970 I was in a mood to purge my past and tossed my high school yearbook into the flames.  A decade later I found it in the attic.  Dad had saved it from the flames when I left to find more material for purging.

Treasures under the Forsythia Bush

These treasures might have been placed under the bush by my siblings or perhaps by the grandchildren.  Carters love to collect stones, shells, nuts and interesting rocks.

The Bench Dad built for Mom

Mom’s ashes are spread beneath this bench, built with love by Dad.

Annette Craven Carter and David Charles Carter

Buddha beneath the bench

Either Anna or Dave placed Buddha with the bench during our last weekend together in Martinsville.

The Beech Tree

Another shot of the Beech Tree.

Roots of the Beech Tree

The roots have spread in a giant circle, perhaps thirty feet in diameter showing above the surface of the lawn.  Like the roots of the tree, each child ventures away from its childhood home yet still is connected, sometimes a bit too tightly.

witness of my grief

From afar, a deer watches as I cry beneath the Beech Tree.

the front window

Whenever anyone left the house, Mom stood in the picture window and waved.  I still see her there, wearing her white, terrycloth robe, waving as I left to walk to the school bus stop.

Dad's note pinned beside the back door

Dad is an eternal optimist.  The first six reminders don’t matter to him anymore.  He lives only by the last … 7.  Enjoy the Day!

Time to go.  Time to let go.  I backed out of the driveway and headed down the hill only to make a right turn and circle around to the house once more.  I justified my return by not remembering if I had shut the tool shed door.  Without getting out of the car I backed out of the driveway.  On my way down the hill I passed a young man, hair hanging loose half-way to his waist.  He appeared lost in serious thought.  I waved.  He smiled.  He is part of a new generation enjoying my childhood stomping ground.  I wish I knew his name.  He set me free.  Somehow, he helped to lift the weight off my heart and break the chains that bound me to my early programming.

The Carter Home in Martinsville

In 1952 the roof was higher than all the surrounding trees.  Goodbye house, you have served our family well.

I’m ready to spread my wings and fly to heights I’ve never dared fly to before.  Thank you, Mom. Thank you, Dad. Thank you, Louise, Anna and Howard.

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