Something about houses attracts the hope within.
Tudors with their brick facades, happy bungalows — especially the ones equipped with porch swings, cottages framed by specialty gardens.
The memoir I am writing is focused around the theme of various houses in which I have lived. Maybe I should have become a realtor.
The house Mom bought, then had to leave behind, is a typical Oklahoma ranch. When dementia first began to squeeze its nasty tentacles around Dad’s personality, Mom felt as if she needed to move him off the farm. Into the safety of town and one-level housing.
Neither of them could continue to fully operate within the realities of farm life.
Dementia stole Dad’s vocation from him, and Mom could no longer handle the hard work required in the country life she loved.
They settled into the brick ranch and lived securely as Mom nursed Dad. My sister joined them and helped Mom for 10 shadowy years. Then on a gentle spring morning in May, angels carried Dad away.
Mom stayed in the ranch, unwilling and unable to move anywhere else. In fact, she underscored her idea of the future when she announced, “My next move will be to the cemetery.”
If only it had been that simple.
The ranch soon became the forecaster of Mom’s next move as she began a downward spiral. She forgot the location of her pots and pans, threw away important bills and documents, counted her medications numerous times before swallowing.
It was in the ranch house where Mom passed out, her brave heart needing the extra pulsing of a pacemaker, her head bleeding from where she banged it when she fell.
When she had to leave, a series of ambulance rides transported her from the hospital to the nursing home rehab and later to her studio apartment in assisted living.
Meanwhile, the sturdy ranch house remained. Mom never had a chance to tell it good-bye.
The yard is its best feature, a surrounding halo of my sister’s plantings: zinnias, pansies and the four o’clocks that actually open at four o’clock twice each day.
I like the house, usually finding a slice of serenity inside when I visit the Oklahoma family. Although it is a bit weird to sleep in the bed in which I was conceived, I gaze at pictures on the walls and remember when we gave them to Mom and Dad.
In the closet, I hang my clothes and touch hangers that held Mom’s winter coat, a suit she no longer wears, a knit shirt with embroidered daisies — some of the threads barely hanging on to their frayed outlines.
Mom’s brush and comb still wait on the dresser, flanked by doilies her mother crocheted, their white loops now fading into the yellows of the past.
The massive mahogany furniture which none of us will want — a pronunciation of Mom’s signature style.
Mom never seems to miss the ranch house. She only remembers the farm as her home where she raised three children, cooked harvest meals and hung clothes to flap on the line — fabric silhouettes of each person in her family.
The personality of the ranch house follows me whenever I drive away. I am left with a sense of gratitude that my sister is safe within its walls and I know — in that particular house, our family made an imprint on the earth.
Homes become the measurements of years as each place serves a purpose. Within our respective homes, we wait for that final call to a home that contains no walls, needs no paint and provides the freedom where our spirits forever roam.
©2019 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
Read more about the places and people of hope in Hope Shines, also available in Large Print.