Not Just a House

Nov 27, 2018

It is gone! In May 2004 my friend Barb made the same announcement regarding my childhood home at 619 Regent St.It had been torn down and she unceremoniously, although not without compassion, told me as we stood in the crowded gym at the MCS reunion. I was heartbroken about the disappearance of a house I drove by every time I went to Fredericton. A few years before I had persuaded Burton to stop so I could ask the young man washing his car in the backyard if I could walk through my childhood home which was now student housing. I took my good old time and walked through, filing each room carefully in my memory. I had the same experience a week ago in a different house of my childhood .I have watched for over twenty five years as my Great Aunt Alice’s house stood empty and defenseless to the attack of the elements. I longed to walk though the back door again but of course what I was really longing for was my Aunt Alice greeting me , serving me gingersnaps and ginger ale. I longed to see my Great Uncle Wilfred resting on his cot in the dining room or calling up to us from the open trap door in the pantry. I longed to unpack my little suitcase in the bedroom above the kitchen and sleep for the nights of my visit in the bedroom that in my imagination was the room Anne came to her first night at Green Gables. I longed to walk into the parlor on Boxing day and find my sweet Aunt Alice still trimming her Christmas tree. I wanted to stand by the kitchen window looking toward the orchard and the beautiful stretch of river beyond as I dried dishes.I longed to watch Wilfred limp in with an armload of wood filling the wood box then sitting at the kitchen table, his unbending leg stretched out as he poured his tea into his saucer before sipping it.Their great nephew on Wilfred’s side allowed me to accompany him a few days ago so I could enter this house which looms so large and meaningful in my childhood memories. I am heartbroken and tears stream down my cheeks as I write this. It is gone! another Barb just told me with a phone call and again not without compassion.Both houses have already made their way into my writing and two of my works in progress that I keep going back and forth to these fall days of 2018 have my Aunt Alice’s house front and center. Perhaps someday the house will be really gone for me but I somehow doubt it. Because the house which now is smoldering rubble waiting to be covered with dirt and gone, will never be gone as long as my memories remain. A framed picture sits on top of my desk and I can still see Alice coming out the door onto the veranda, her full apron covering her house dress . She calls Wilfred in to supper and a little girl follows her inside.


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