Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ghosts

Last night I stayed in my Grandmother's house on the lake by myself, for the first and perhaps last time. She, at 99, is moved in with my Uncle and Aunt now, either forever, or until either one of two obvious eventualities plays out. The house and its overgrown grounds were silent and calm, dark and moist. My wife called to speak with me and she, remembering cold nights spent trying to evade spider-webbed nightmares of ghosts, sleeping in the dark and creaky basement room where my Grandfather slept, asked me if it felt spooky being there by myself.

It is where my father grew up for most of his childhood, and where my grandmother lived for over 60 years. Most, but not all of my Gran's treasures are moved out now, and the main floor has been cleaned and tidied for renters or possible sale. Memories, for me all good, lay silently in each corner. Christmases, winters, spring, but mostly summers. There exist pictures of my sister and I at every possible age at that house, or at least, every possible era: greying and paunch-comfortable adults, slim and handsome 30-somethings, long-haired (or perhaps multihued-short-haired) idealistic 20-somethings, burgeoning and insufferable teens, children, toddlers, newborns at our Christenings and even as twinkles in our newlywed-parent's eyes; all pictures taken within the 1.3 acres of wooded, sun-dappled rainforest on a high lakefront perch. Virtually every member of our extended family has been to the house at one point; my mother's family; my father's many cousins; my many cousins with their spouses and children; All of them captured on print or slide: laughing in a cape-cod chair; drinking a homebrew beer out of a pewter stein on the wharf; lying under a card table with my Grandfather, surrounded by an abandoned card game, drunk on sunshine and Scrumpy; a cousin scrabbling with my 8 year old father among the goats and chickens that clucked around the yard in the 40s; my infant sister in her pixie-snowsuit, propped on the hood of a giant Chevy with a foot of snow blanketing the
world around her; Grandmother in outrageous cat-eye shades and audacious bathing suit, hoisting a glass of elderberry wine, the bare legs of her Grandkids visible in the corner of the frame as they lie in the sun, drying off;

So yes the house - old, dark, spiderwebbed and silent - contains a thousand ghosts for me - all my own ghosts though, none strange or frightening. All familiar ghosts, literally. Each one of us who has had a long relationship with the house and its inhabitants has ghosts there. My father and his remaining brother perhaps have the most. But those are their ghosts, not mine. Mine are memories.

And when I feel the ghost tickle the back of my neck as I sit out on the deck looking at the moonlit lake, or hear a ghost creaking up the basement stair as I lay in bed, or perhaps shuffling in the underbrush as I stroll the pine-scented driveway, I turn quickly with a smile, hoping to see someone I love.
__________________________________
(sent wirelessly from my phone)
Hoto
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14 comments:

Sparx said...

OH, man, I so wish I was there...

Sparx said...

ps, I am NOT greying and paunch-ridden... well, not greying anyway!!!!

Suki said...

Came here from Sparx's blog. Very beautiful post :). And the love and closeness in your family shines through in both of your posts... it's lovely.

And I kinda identify with the "friendly ghosts" thing. I used to get that a lot, before saying the last goodbyes.

Hoto said...

Thanks for dropping by Suki, I appreciate it.

And sparx, yes I missed you. Whether it was my last night or not, having you with whom to share it would have made it more poignant. Regarding the graying of the plumage,...are you sure? Have you checked south of the border yet?

Sparx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sparx said...

Darn, just realised what you meant. No, I do not have a snowy owl at the bottom of the stairs, thanks for asking.

Lindystar the HOR blogger said...

Does gifted (beautiful) writing run in your family?

I'm thinking so, what a truly lovely post hoto, honestly.

Rose said...

Balling my eyes out. xo Rose

lady macleod said...

Just lovely, puts me in mind of all the places I have left..

Hoto said...

Thanks so much Lindy and LadyM. I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a note.

Sparx got all the written talent, Lindy, I'm just faux sparx.

LadyM: Yes, everyone has a place like this.

Rose: Is that my cuz? Hey sweets. say hi to P and E and your new spud.

Bob & Hazel said...

In answer to lindystar...yes, good writing does run in the family. Sparx and Hoto have referred to their 99yr old gran several times recently. Gran (my mother) is first cousin to the late, poetical (was Englands Poet Laureate) John Masefield.

Sparx and Hoto's Dad (Miredinthe blog).

Bob & Hazel said...

In answer to Lindystar, yes, good writing does run in the family - Hoto and Sparx have blogged about their 99yr old Gran (my mother). Said Gran is the first cousin of the late, poetical (was once England's Poet Laureate)John Masefield.

Hoto and Shell's Dad (miredintheblog)

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

I felt I was there..so touching.
thank you for sharing.

DJ Kirkby said...

Oof. Brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my chest.