When I was little my parents owned a lumberyard, a fringe benefit being that when something was built around my house it was built to last. Case in point: my Little House. Built 60 years ago for older siblings, I inherited this child’s hideaway after its occupants had outgrown it. I adored my little retreat. All those years ago I sought quiet and solitude just as I do today.
Every spring I cleaned my Little House from floor to rafters. I re-painted as needed and decorated to my heart’s content. Little baby doll bed, table and chairs, knickknacks – all mine. My family moved from 311 East Archwood Avenue when I was 14. The Little House accompanied our family, but my dreams were no longer centered in it, taking a backseat to high school, college, teaching, marriage and children.
With the birth of each child I longed for that Little House: the embodiment of my childhood. Circumstances were never quite right, years turned to decades, and the elements battered my Little House in my parents’ backyard. But I never gave up on it, never stopped wanting it.
This morning my 21-year-old son came home from school. After chit-chatting a bit he says, “Hey, Mom, you want to see something I picked up for you yesterday?” Working in construction himself, I thought perhaps he’d retrieved a treasure someone had discarded. We walk out onto our porch and he doesn’t say a word, just points to the trailer. And there it is – my Little House! The roof is next to it on the trailer, the house sits a teeny bit lopsided, the paint is peeling, and some of the floorboards have rotted. The rusty numbers, 311½, remain securely nailed as the address. It’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
And you know what? I can’t stop crying. Big, blubbery tears. The more I think of the gift, the harder I cry. I may be 50 years old, but my heart’s still 5. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
I have such plans: scraping, painting, enlisting my son’s help for the more major aspects. I look at my Little House snugly sitting inside the trailer; I look at my real grown-up house needing so much work itself. In fact, I came home this morning with great visions of making a dent in merely the messes, but here I sit gazing at my Little House. A monarch butterfly landed on a dandelion next to the trailer. Bees are buzzing which I hadn’t noticed earlier. I’m hearing all kinds of critter sounds that I hadn’t heard before. The sun is warm, the breeze is light, and my heart is full to overflowing.
Soon I shall strip the wooden walls of the curling paint flakes, but already my heart feels stripped of some of life’s anxieties. This colossal gift of love has kicked out built-up negativity. As I paint my Little House I’ll also paint my own interior sunnier, happier. I’ll paint my world pretty once more, from my Little House to my real home, to my heart and mind and soul.
I have been given a great gift.
Copyright 2009 Maureen Locher