The Home That Still Holds My Heart
When Mom mentions the remote future possibility of a move, I instantly lose the ability to listen and take a mental meander through the house I grew up in.Skip to next paragraph
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To the family, the room off the kitchen is forever the Bird Room. It doesn't have a feather now, but at one time it housed Lovey, Dad's cockatoo. The bird was definitely a one-man fowl, ruffling his white feathers and glaring furiously at any other object of Dad's attention. Lovey barked in our dog's voice and did an impersonation of the doorbell that sent us all repeatedly to the front door where we'd scowl at the empty walk and mutter, "That bird!"
The Bird Room held the current pinball machine where some kid could be found, face lit by flashing lights and the thrill of bonus points. He or she would be pushing the buttons frantically and muttering, "One more game and I'll do my homework." Followed by, "Just one more game...."
In the hallway, time has stopped. There we are, from receiving blankets to graduation gowns. Dad aspired to capture every milestone. He coaxed us, to the chorus of "Oh, Dad, please! Not another picture! My smile muscles are killing me!"
"Someday," he promised, "you're going to be glad I insisted. Now, smile - like you mean it!" Once we were squinting into the sunshine, Dad was sure to say, "Just a minute, keep smiling." He'd fiddle around with the camera, then fiddle around some more, while we muttered through the clenched teeth of our frozen grins, "Take the picture, Dad!"
The snapshots are a kaleidoscope within the carved oak frame of what was once a looking glass. It's still a mirror, actually - the rearview type - lacking only the words, "Objects in mirror are much closer than they appear."
What will always be the Glass Room is a cozy TV room today. Long ago, it was Dad's stained-glass workshop, with huge wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling cupboards, a gigantic littered table, and a gritty floor piled with tools. With the soldering iron burning, the air tasted of metal and fire. The radio perennially sputtered a static-filled rendition of Paul Harvey's "...good day!" Art materialized from the mess: elegant stained-glass boxes and clocks, and a circular window of graceful tulips for the front door of the house.
The Gray Bathroom remained gray for about 10 minutes after we moved into the house in 1965. The name stuck firmer than the bright new wallpaper. It might well have been called the Music Room. The superior acoustics of the shower inspired many an uninhibited solo. When Dad sang, his rumbling bass boomed throughout the house.
"What's that?" visitors asked.
"Oh," we'd say, "it's 'Oklahoma.' You've never heard it before?"
The laundry should have been known as the Can-Can Room. "Come on, guys, kick!" Mom would say, swooshing the sheets she was folding from side to side and stepping high. "One, two, three, kick !" And we would, arms linked at the elbows, brandishing pillowcases or towels and giggling wildly.
"My mom never does this," my friends would say, joining the chorus line.