While TBM continues to labor on the floors this week, I’ve traveled to Colorado to visit my mother. Late summer is the most amazing time in the Rockies (except winter snowfall): streams of sunshine, bluest skies, warm dry air that rarely leaves me feeling too hot or too cold, as does the humid air in the east. The best part: there’s a daily nature exhibit in the back garden.
This doe and fawn, and bucks that come two-by-two, have made themselves very comfortable, though it’s a pity they’ve eaten every last lilly and rose, and stripped away most of the leaves on low tree branches. My mom claims to despise the deer, and the piles of manure they leave on the lawn, yet she opens the backdoor softly and calls to them in a friendly voice, especially the baby, who we saw suckling on its mama early yesterday morning. The sad truth is my widowed, lonely mother enjoys the companionship of the deer, though she’ll never see that through to the logic of keeping a pet- a small dog or friendly cat- to help ease the quiet of her days. She lives right in town, within walking distance of everything and neighbors close by. Yet she chooses to cocoon herself at home.
The place is lovely. It’s an eastern stick Victorian, built in 1883 and now on the National Historical Register. Ours is only the second family to own and live in it. Before moving in, my parents painted almost every room white and had gold shag carpet, the fashion of the day, laid throughout. Thus began the transformation of a house my mom described as “landlord green and pepto bismal pink” to a highly decorated (if not highly edited), cozy-despite-its-fussiness family home, the only one I’ve ever known.
The emotional attachment to this home runs deep for my mother, filled as it is with decades of memories, possessions, and dreams. To a certain point, I share the attachment, and my oldest brother feels the house is as much a part of his identity as our family’s name. Our other two siblings are less sentimental about the place, and at times perhaps we all have felt enmity towards it, our mother putting such priority on its keeping, our father complying with her every whim of wallpaper change and furniture purchase.
The story of how we ended up here is quite interesting, for sharing another time, and the irony is that when my parents purchased our home, my mother had no interest in Victorian architecture and had never wanted to live in an old house. But now, she loves old houses, hers in particular, and will live no place else (last winter was an exercise in that futility). The serendipitous result of my upbringing in this home is that I love old houses too, and so many other old, beautiful things. Our styles are very different, my mother’s and mine, but she instilled in me the appreciation of beauty and grace so easily found in time-worn things. With any luck (and endless amounts of sweat equity) one day my home will be as lovely as hers.