Saturday, June 29, 2013

All That is Left is the Roses

classy by jennifernish
classy, a photo by jennifernish on Flickr.

 We have lived in our current house for almost 10 years now, and many days of those 10 years have been spent walking with Riley and Scout through our neighborhood.

I have seen many changes to the neighborhood over these past 10 years. Mainly in the form of houses being bought and sold. Younger families moving in and older couples moving out, needing a smaller place with less yard.

There have also been the cases where the moving truck comes but only half of the house's possessions leave. A sad reminder that vows pledged to spend a lifetime together didn't go as planned.

There are also two houses that I know of where only one spouse remains but for a different reason, a reason of great sadness. The lifetime that they envisioned together cut short by a ravaging disease.

The two houses that I thought about most this morning on our walk have experienced the ultimate loss, the loss of it's sole surviving occupant.

The first house was owned by an elderly lady, who was easily in her 80's when we moved here. She only lived in the house in the summer. I am assuming spending the colder months in a warmer climate.

Buick, a photo by cdine on Flickr

I remember she would come roaring out of her driveway in her monstrous Buick, making me extremely cautious as I approached her house. In the Winter when I walked past I could see through the thin sheer curtains the mannequin she had sitting on the couch. As the Winter wore on the mannequin's head would tilt closer and closer to her shoulder. Anyone just causally passing by would think the dear lady had passed on and was slowly deteriorating.

One Spring there was no roaring Buick but instead a For Sale sign in the front yard, and all her possessions were lined up in the driveway as part of an Estate Sale. Quite quickly the house was sold to the people next door, who tore it down and made the former site of the house a green space and garden. I miss the old gal and her Buick, but most of all, I miss seeing that mannequin in the window every Winter.

It is the second house that got me writing this post in my head as the dogs and I continued our Journey towards home. As we rounded the corner at our half way point in the walk, there they were...his lovingly cared for roses lit beautifully by the early morning sun. In glorious full bloom along his split rail fence. Each Spring he would be out there on his wheeled garden stool, tenderly weeding around each rose bush.

Saskia II (KC-19) a photo by handforged on Flickr
I never exchanged many words with him other than the occasional "hello", "Good Morning" or "it's a beautiful day", so I don't know much about his life other than what I observed. I know that he loved to sail at one point in his life, since there was a beauty of a wooden sailboat that sat in his side yard. I never saw it leave that spot though, so I think he was past his sailing days, but once in a while I would see him on a ladder next to it tinkering away, so I know he still loved his boat, possibly as much as he loved those roses.

I knew things changed the year the ceramic Christmas tree stayed on the table in the front window through all four seasons. Then the sad things happened, a For Sale sign went up on the sailboat, and a For Sale sign went in the front yard. I saw the cars with the out of state license plates emptying the house into a U-Haul truck. 

It took a while for the house to sell, and I am not sure the new owners live there other than in the summer. Thankfully though they have left his roses and have even weeded around them. They still bloom gloriously every summer, an ongoing testimony to the love he put into them. 

Someday we will sell this house and downsize, moving closer to wherever Mallory finally settles. This made me wonder what people will remember about me and our house. I am hoping they will remember the lady who dutifully walked her two golden retrievers through the heat of Summer, the rain of Spring and the cold of Winter. They will remember the house that always had it's garage door open when we were home. They will remember the lady who did still life photography on her front porch, and the year she finally did something with her hideous side garden and made it beautiful.

What will people remember about you and your house? I would love to hear your story.


  1. Awesome writing Sarah. You've painted a great picture. And got me to thinking. Actually a couple weeks ago I was out walking with two neighbors and their dogs and passed an older lady tending her flowers. She waved and I wanted so badly to go talk to her. She was gone by the time we came back. I'll have to try again.

  2. I LOVE your new header photo, Sarah! Now back to actually read your post!! lol

  3. Now I've read every word ... what a poignant post. Ah yes, the silent legacies we leave in this world where we no longer really know our neighbors. Makes me a bit sad, but I am no better at making the connections than the next guy.

  4. A wonderful piece Sarah society today is so different from when I was a child everyone knew everyone, now not so much...

  5. A lovely piece of writing. I'm lucky that I live in a cul-de-sac of 14 houses and my neighbours are all friendly. I think I'd be known as the woman who is always rushing to places - work or acting as a taxi for the kids or crawling around the garden taking photos of flowers and insects!

  6. Wonderful writing. A thought provoking story. We have been in our house for 20 years and have seen a lot of changes also. We were one of the young families when we first moved in and now we are one of the oldest with grandchildren running around. Perhaps we will be remembered for always having kids on the front lawn. Lol
    Have a lovely Sunday.

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  8. Lovely post! I felt like I was right there walking with you as you described the changes in your neighborhood. We've been in this house for 37 years and have seen lots of changes around us. I think we'll be remembered as the couple that loved to work out in the yard together; the neighbors with the noisy grandsons...we do make a lot of noise when we have fun, and I'll be the lady that is always in her yard in the most unusual poses with a camera in her hand!

  9. Definitely a sad way. With my father gone and my mother enduring her 13th year with Alzheimer's and her fourth year in a nursing childhood home is one of those houses that is not what it once was and many of the homes in the neighborhood where I grew up have similar stories. We moved to our present house just three years ago and not much has changed. But they will. And we are where we plan to live out the rest of our lives. Now that you've inspired me...which neighborhood will I write about? What a beautiful beautiful post!

  10. There's practically nothing I like better than a good story and THIS was one! I'm so pleased I stopped by here (via 'Friday Finds') and had a visit 'round your place ... you can sure turn a word ;>]] I enjoyed having that neighborhood ramble and you've also given me some food for thought. So nice to **meet** you, Sarah!

  11. The circle goes 'round, doesn't it? But still sometimes sad to contemplate ...


  12. We moved not so long ago and are still getting to know our neighbours. Walking dogs all the time makes it easier to connect because people are always coming to see the pooches.We have a variety of ages around and your post makes me resolve to reach out more to the older ones and chat with them to find out what is important in their lives...

  13. Neighborhoods are so much more than the houses and front yards, aren't they? And yet, our homes speak volumes. I wonder what our former neighbors think when they walk by the home we lived in for 13 years and sold last year. Had it finally become "The Pritchett's" in their minds rather than "The Le Duc's" or the owners before them? Do they remember seeing us out front hanging Christmas lights or painting the front door coral? Do they recall our old poodle sitting on the couch in my front office staring out the window and barking at strangers as they walked by? Do they remember the kids squealing as they climbed up the maple to the second story balcony or crying for help when a neighbor boy took out his front tooth on an impromptu sidewalk skateboard ramp?Perhaps those memories are buried now--covered with new sights and sounds created by the lesbian couple and their two little boys who bought the house. But I hope we're not forgotten entirely. Not just yet.

  14. What a lovely and poignant story about your life and your neighborhood. As someone who has moved around so much, I doubt people will remember much about me! But, of course, as I get older I'll be settling down and I will remember your thoughtful words when I do.
    P.S. Loved the mannequin...:)

  15. Forgot to say how much I like the new blog banner. Those are the coolest rain boots!

  16. I found another part of Sarah . . . love your Becoming A Finisher site . . . and loved this story! I had tears in my heart over no more mannequin in the window . . . leaning to one side. And the Roses and Wooden Sailboat now moved on to be cared by another. And items moved to the driveway to be sold.

    It makes me reflect . . . what will I be remembered for when I am gone . . . Will there be those who wonder who is walking a pint sized Snickers doggie . . . or who will be tending to the hydrangeas, ivy's and iris . . .

    Beautiful piece Sarah . . .

  17. Dave and I were the third owners since the War Between the States. Now that he's dead, I would love to sell this huge place and move closer to my family. TMI, sorry.

  18. Beautiful writing! Thanks to Lynne, I have found your blog.

    I have often wondered who will be living in this house in the future, the house & gardens I have nurtured. I hope people will remember cats in the windows, flowers in the yard, the golfer always headed out to the course and the very contented artist.