I will admit to being a pack rat, a habit I'm trying to change.
Stuff binds us.
Although I know there is more peace, more freedom with less, I still have a problem letting go, learning that it's the memory, not the thing itself, that is worth holding onto.
This was my ancestral home in Texas, a picture taken by my Dad, an amateur photographer, the year of the great snow in Houston (his shadow is in the bottom center of the photo.) It is the house Mom and Dad built as newlyweds, the home they held onto when times were hard, the place where they raised two independent, "cotton pickin' brats", (as Dad lovingly referred to my younger sister and myself) their shelter as they grew old together.
The garage in whose darkroom corner I watched pictures appear magically on photo paper is no longer there, a victim of a tree thrown by Ike's raging winds. Only a beaten, cracked concrete slab bears testimony that it once existed.
That, and my memory.
In the house, the closet, which my sister and I shared along with a tiny bedroom, bears dated penciled lines that grew with us. We discussed rescuing the molding, that family heirloom chronicling our lives, but we have so much already.
Rich memories of Dad returning from a weary day looking for a job, yet taking time to crawl on hands and knees from the living room to our bedroom, gently carrying the pretend cowgirls on their pretend horse.
The wonderful smell of fresh bread baking in the old O'Keefe and Merritt gas range in the kitchen. Mom was not a great cook, but she did some serious baking on that stove, especially at Christmas.
Oh, the Christmas mornings, meals around the small kitchen table, practical jokes, laughter, tears. Sights and sounds and smells rush back into my mind.
The fireplug we gingerly played on and around. No ordinary fireplug, it served as a cow for roping practice, a crow's nest from which to view new worlds to conquer, a place to sit and contemplate life.
Yesterday, at 3:30 in the afternoon, the deed to that house passed into the hands of someone else. This little house, our childhood ark, our legacy, was sold, the key turned in the old lock for the last time and surrendered to the new owner.
Perhaps they will make memories of their own, add several coats of new paint, repair old tile and flooring. Perhaps they will demolish the house and start all over.
I do know this, it was a great place to spend my childhood. A cup full of experience and love. Memories I will pass on to my children, and my children's children.
Memories too precious to let go.
(Thank you, Principessa, for the pictures of the magical fireplug and back door.)