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You Called Me Home

If a house could talk, what would it say about the family it shelters?

I was a two story cape whose family was moving away when you came.  You brought your bride and a small dog, a weiner dog as I recall.  My landscaping was lacking, my bushes overgrown.  You somehow saw beyond the cracks in the driveway sprouting weeds.  You grinned when you claimed the single detached garage.    

Your eyes found my skin tired and chalky, and my windows were drafty.  My doors had never seen a coat of paint, but I opened them wide for you.   You walked through my rooms and saw beyond the dim fixtures, the blemished walls, the small kitchen, and the closet size second bath.  You saw beyond the musty cave of my basement.  I liked your smile at the challenge before you.  I nearly recoiled at the thought of the transformation to come, but it was your right for taking a chance on me, and after a time of formalities I'll never presume to understand, I became a house you called home.   

Your bride lovingly brought my counters to shine, and she went to great lengths to make every space welcoming with her unique touch.  I watched you replace every fixture, and their light chased shadows away.   Each of my rooms was smoothed and painted in hues that brightened the once present gloom and soon I felt the vitality of your young age infused into my tired frame.   

The painted brick of my fireplace was dressed up in stone.  I looked forward to warming your hands in the winter cold.  You gave me a new mantle and a matching bookcase made with your own hands.  Perhaps you don't know this, but I knew then what you thought.  I saw that dream of one day filling those shelves with your books.   

For five years I enjoyed the sound of your laughter.  Your two mutts trampled my grounds left and right, and always found the sun coming through my new windows to warm their backs.  I apologized for every old part of me that made the new basement such a task, but you did it and did it well, and the cavern was gone.  In its place, more laughter and joy reigned supreme.   

My fires burned bright and I watched you two dance to soft music into the early hours of the morning.  I sighed at the messes you made as you hurried your way out to work.  I felt your motivation and determination to keep me, and keep me well, updating every part of me.   

The once empty room facing the street, transformed to welcome your first little girl.  How I adored the little voice, each coo, cry, and giggle.  I smiled each time a pencil was used to mark where that little head reached on the trim of the closet, month after month.   

Soon there were two little voices, my every room held one of you and soon your daughters called this old house their home.  I watched in awe as each one grew, one willowy and tall, one elfin and fair.  They ran through my rooms, they splashed my bathroom floor, they crayoned my walls, and they looked out my window, celebrating each snowfall before curling around the fireplace, looking up at the Christmas Tree eagerly awaiting that precious day.   

I stood proud, my siding in a rich brown, my trim a darker shade.  I even had a full head of hair, every shingle brand new.  On rainy days, I liked watching the water flow down the new smooth driveway, dancing around the new contention wall and the walkway.   

I watched you laugh.  I watched you cry.   I felt alive when company came and you worked so hard to make me look my best.  I felt special, for you brought two new lives for me to shelter, to inwardly laugh when their riding my stairways tickled my frame.  I was now a better house and you called me home.   

I knew when times got tough, for the discussions were serious in my little kitchen. I heard the promises you made as you held your bride in your arms, hurting with the impotence to do more than you did.  I know some decisions were made that you didn't want to make.  I missed you while you were gone for so many hours out of the day.  Your girls ran into each of my rooms trying to find you.  You worked so hard and it wasn't enough.  Little did I know you had something else in mind.   I watched as you sat in front of a glowing screen.  Night after night you were down in my basement, hammering at the keyboard even when you started to look at me sadly, knowing our parting was imminent.   

I remember it well, when you revised that last page.  You ran out to the backyard, past the pool where the summer laughter and splashing echoed even in the dead of winter, and you ended up on your knees behind the garage proud that you did what you set out to do.  My shelves by the fireplace held one book, then another. Both bore your name on the spine, just as you dreamed that day when you set that last nail into that oak board.   

Wherever you go from here, whatever you do, started right here within my walls. I'll think of you fondly, I'll miss being yours, but through sixty-six years, I've learned that people come and people go.  But you and your bride, along with your little girls, have been a joy to shelter.  

I'll take eternal credit in the fact that your family started here.  Your first books decorated my shelves, along with your portraits, and I know you won't forget me, the way I won't forget everything you did to this old two story cape.   I'll forever remember, with more love than you'll know, that for thirteen happy years, you called me home.

   Javier A. Robayo








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Kate January 24, 2013 at 05:22 PM
Beautiful, touching story. I have always respected old houses for whom/what they have sheltered. You, Mr. Robayo, have given these walls a voice.
Javier A. Robayo February 05, 2013 at 03:49 PM
I appreciate your comment. I was stunned to see the number of people who went through this. Here's hoping for better days.

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