As I locked up and left her house for what would be the last time, I did not expect to feel the way that I did. I looked back at it’s emptiness and I was sad.
Today my brother and I have the closing on her house. After today, we’d no longer be responsible for the house. The sense of relief I was expecting, knowing this would be my final trip through the house was missing. Today, the house would be transferred to another owner and someone else would start another chapter in this humble house. As I performed one final walkthrough, I was surprised how much more pronounced the echoes were today; in my last few visits I must have missed it. I’m sure that these sounds had always been there; today with it’s emptiness, the knowing that these four walls had previously contained so much life, now seemed dead.
Each step I took, each creak was not muffled, but instead each sound had a sharp point on it , almost an exclamation point. The echoes today did not seem organic; made of wood and clay and lumbering slowly, but instead they seemed forged of steel and stone and darted around quickly with a greater intensity than I recalled.
I’m sure the place was like this on moving day nearly 4 years ago, but my Mom saw something in it that she’d make hers. She always had a true instinct of seeing the long term, seeing the forest through the trees much better than I ever could.
During her brief time in the house, she made the house hers, with her own unique sense of tasteful minimalistic styling. She used to joke about the house having a feng shui to it, but I think she had nailed it. Each item had to have a reason for being there, even if it’s sole purpose was to make her happy and comfortable in what would be her last years, there was not a sense of clutter when you were in it. In her early days in this house, there was a design sense to it. In her last months, it was purely for comfort and convenience, and it had to be kept clean. It was always clean.
Thinking back, I thought I’d be more relieved not having to make that half hour trip to her house. But I’m not. I’m going to miss the trip, I’m going to miss the trip’s simplicity. The early morning stops for breakfast sandwiches on our way down, making sure we got an apple cinnamon bagel. Or maybe we were just going to go to the diner for breakfast, the five of us, or on rare or special occasion, the nine of us.
Pull into the driveway. Open the garage door and enter. Open the laundry room, and there is waiting for you; that smell. It’s like an old friend.
Oh, that smell. I can’t count how many times I’ve completed those steps and experienced that smell.
What was that smell? It was not a bad one, just a distinct scent. The scent was almost cedar like, but not quite. I have no idea what it was, maybe a cleaning product maybe it was dryer sheets? Maybe it was something from her dog?
I will never, ever, forget that smell.
What I wouldn’t give to have a reason to make that trip again, to have my Mom waiting on the other side of the laundry room door, waiting for that fresh apple cinnamon bagel.