I still see my grandparents’ house as it was: the interior is still there; every detail, the large book cases and old record collection, the plates and cups are still where they were. I recall the smell of camphor, dried flowers, lino and fitted carpet and the cupboard with band-aids and rubberbands that smelt sweet, like caramel candy. I remember reading in my mother and uncle’s old rooms, filled with vintage teen novels and outdated comic books. My grandpa’s cramped workroom in the hall, outlooking the garden, with all his wondrous, home-made knick-knacks and inventions. The great garden; with all its nooks and hiding spots; the great, crooked cherry plum tree that my grandma made marmalade from and all its fallen, mice-eaten fruit covering its ground and filling up the gutter of the house. The small strawberry field, the blackberry and blackcurrant bushes that we ate from. Grandpa showing us tiny fallen bird nests and visits from hedgehogs and deers. The old bench under the wild-grown climber named after me, the little greenhouse with warm tomatoes and cucumbers, the great pines with squirrels and bickering birds. The little swing my grandpa put up for me and my sister when we were small and the big playhouse where I found a box filled with my uncle’s old toy figures. The unseen neighbour who always stuck his meaty hand through the fence to offer some chocolate and exchange a friendly word with my grandpa.
I know it is all gone. Someone else owns the house now. A young couple, I’ve heard. Torn down walls, repainted, restored and refurnished everything.
I don’t mind. I’m glad that it doesn’t stay uninhabited and alone but is filled with youth and joy once again, as when my grandparents once moved into it when they were young.
Yet, I’ve never seen how much it has changed, so I still imagine it as it was. The idea that my grandparents are still there, puttering about, waiting for us to come and visit for tea and biscuits and a smile; unchanged by time, sickness and death. And I remember them as they were, knowing that they’ve found eternal peace in that memory.