Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Big Old House

by Renee Shepard (writer), Elmira Heights, September 22, 2007

There was always something special about growing up in upstate New York. Especially in a ten room Victorian house with two kids 15 months apart. I don’t know how my parents lived with us but one good thing in a house that big the kids could always find places to hide where nobody would find you.
In 1972, my parents bought this huge and in desperate need of a whole lot of TLC this amazing house. The woodwork was stunning and very much matched the time period of when it was built more than a hundred years ago. The stairs curved with complete elegance and the cherry natural wood was a marvel to behold for two rambunctious kids. During our childhood we had a Siamese cat who would sit on the pedestal atop the stairs like a statue. Us kids were jealous and once we even tried to sit up there like the cat only to be yelled at and chased down of course, by our furious mother.
It was a great place to grow up and if the walls could talk, oh the stories they would tell. One thing about a house that old is that even though our parents were not in the same room as us, no doubt they could still hear everything that was going on, all the arguments over toys, the yelling and screaming of ‘give it back’ or ‘it’s mine’ shrieked down the hall and into their ears. The endless screams of “Mom, he hit me” or “Mom, she bit me in the face again” always followed by two kids screaming bloody murder each demanding to be heard.
Mom settled it like any other Mother would, we both get tossed in our rooms for what seemed like an eternity for about fifteen minutes and the minute we were let back out of our ‘cages’ we’d be at each other’s throats again. This went on everyday of our lives probably until we moved out in our early twenties.
Because the house was so big, and me of course, being so small, I had a tough time finding other life forms about the house. I remember my father being the musical type was always singing, whistling and always had a radio going in any room he was in. It was almost like a game for me to ‘seek out Daddy’. I would sit quietly in my room and then listen in the old cast iron register to perfectly pinpoint the room that my beloved father was in. The house creaked so badly in certain rooms that it was almost too easy to be found. When I was convinced that I knew where he was, out the bedroom door I would go, down the stairs to the voice that was pleasantly singing the happy tune. I always found my Dad this way, and it was a real treat whenever I found him because he would always ask “how did you know I was here” and I would just smile at him with my big puppy brown eyes and say “the house told me”.
Ah the big old house, my parents lived in that big old house for over thirty years, and it was heartbreaking to see our childhood home full of memories, both happy and sad come to a close. My mother and I talked about everything and anything that happened during our final moments of this house. It is amazing how people can pack up over 30 years of memories into boxes and have nothing left but the walls and memories. It was this moment that both my mother and I finally broke down and finally cried about leaving this precious big old house. It was the best cry of our lives and like my mother I still dream about this big old house.
My parents recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary so I thought it would be nice to make them a photo album of where they were and of course where they are now. I found every photo imaginable of days gone by in that house and not only did my mother cry when she looked at the album that I had created but my father cried as well.
I will never forget that house as long as I live, growing up in a small town in a ten room Victorian house was a real treat for my brother and I and even though my parents have lived in their new country home for almost four years now, I still long to be in the big old house.

About the Writer

Renee Shepard is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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