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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Echo of Empty Rooms

It's been nearly two weeks since my last post. Wednesday and Thursday, we took Kim (who had just returned from her trip to Croatia) back to Chicago.

Then Friday, we made a trip to the east side of the state to "the house," as we now find ourselves calling the place we called home for all those years. [This 2007 photo is one of the last we have from Mom's living room before everything changed.]

All the siblings have been doing odd jobs there since the estate sale. Everything is gone. Rooms that were papered have been stripped. We hired a long-time family friend to patch and paint every room. All the carpet has been removed, and when the painting is done, new carpet will go down. We'll "white glove" the place... and put the sign we've all dreaded in the front by the road.

My younger brother Jim and I spoke softly in the echo of empty rooms.

"You know how long it's been since I've seen the house like this?" he said.

I did the math in my head, "Over thirty years. You would have been about twelve--the same age I was when you were born."

No carpet, chalky-white "plaster" on the nail holes and sheetrock joints, colorless walls, not a stitch of furniture, Visqueen over new kitchen appliances... The rooms looked as they did when they were just about finished the first time.

Friday evening, Julie rented a rug cleaner for the breezeway. (It was the newest room of the house and the burber carpet was fine.) It looks great. Mom loved that room. Julie and I slept at my sister's next door and then spent Saturday re-tiling the main stairway and master bathroom.
Rich (our friend the painter) was working, too. Not long after he arrived, he began whistling beautifully and the notes reached all the corners of the house.

I had been whistling on the stairs. It's an old habit I picked up from Dad. He always whistled while he did the "thinking" part of work on the house, the pauses between the pounding and the sawing, those gaps when he was most satisfied with what he just done and happily mapping out his next task. He never whistled while doing "have to" work like changing the oil in the car--chores he had to do but took no particular pride in getting done. But working inside the house, with empty resonating rooms, Dad whistled up a storm. Julie said that it sounded like Rich and I were whistling duets throughout the day. It all felt so natural, so much like old times, and we were far enough away from each other that neither of us seemed to notice.

To my surprise, I was fine emotionally as we worked in the empty house. It was on the four-hour drive home that it hit me. A Nat King Cole CD was playing, and when the song from Chapter 16 of Bringing Home the Duncan Phyfe came on... the road blurred and Julie handed me a Kleenex. I should have known better than to play Nat King Cole. After that, I was fine.

Thank you for your patience. I was just someplace else this week. Already missing Kim; missing my folks. You know what I mean. There is one more part to "The Oldest Voice in the Parlor," and then I'm eager to tell you how we built the house in the first place.


Blogger the walking man said...

Nothing wrong with a tear inspired by love. That is, after all, the best use for the ducts anyways.

18/8/09 6:46 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Yes, it was a "good kind" of sad.

19/8/09 3:45 PM  

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