I felt sad as I woke up that morning. I woke up with the immediate awareness that it was my last morning in my old, countryside home. There’s always a nostalgic kind of heartbreak whenever I leave a place, but that morning, my heart was heavier than ever before. When will I ever get the time, the chance, the luxury to come back to this wonderfully old-to-the-point-of-falling-apart, yet delightfully sturdy house?
So I closed my eyes and wished emptily for time to stop, for one more day, one more dinner, one more night in this stubbornly hard bed with no bounce. But the car honks outside, the voices of neighbours shouting for no reason, the dogs barking enviously at the free-flying birds all reminded me that time was a cruel cold-hearted mistress who isn’t halting her near galloping pace for anyone.
I gave her a deep, disapproving sigh and got out of bed.
Besides, my grandparents were strangely quiet that morning. No raucous downstairs. What are those old folks up to?
I scuttled down the concrete steps and found the two quietly sitting outside in the backyard, in their lent pace, peeling green beans. Just using their fragilely-skinned, veiny, but strong hands to pull those silly little peas out of their green beds. 3 by 3 at a time they rolled out shivering and defeated into the cracked bowl.
It would have been the perfect picture of the couple. My grandparents, who might no longer share a passionate love with each other (or ever, I never did ask) anymore, but who have respected, taken care of and trusted each other all those years and still. Right there and then, I felt it. That unexpected rush of love and respect for family, the people who annoy and love you the most in this world.
I admit, I teared up a little.
But then I swallowed that emotional, mess of a lump in my throat, grabbed a chair and joined them in the mid-morning sunshine.
We talked about some of the townspeople, my grandmother forced an egg and a chicken leg down my throat (in typical grandmother fashion), I dropped a few mischievous peas and had to chase them down, my grandfather called me silly and I pinched his sagging cheeks in return. It was the best possible way to spend my last morning, there as the sunlight warmed the walls of that old house, touching almost everything that were the physical manifestations of my childhood.
As I packed my bags and left. I looked back one last time and snapped a photo in my mind. The scribbles on the walls by those pesky neighbourhood kids, the white walls dirtied from the dust and flying time, the door that didn’t quite lock properly, the blue curtain of the living room with its seams coming out at the edges, the glowing red Christian cross that stood proud over the entire front entrance. Even if I don’t ever make it back again, I’ll remember this, just like I did the last time I came back 8 years ago (although I wasn’t very conscious of my remembering since, well I was a bratty, spoiled 14 year old. Some say I still am. I won’t argue).
It’s the home that built me.