Sunday, 20 May 2012
The viewing. We had booked 7 house viewings in one day, and were running behind schedule. 'Our house' was our second to last viewing. We had about 5 minutes for a quick look round before our next booking, which was kind of ok, as it was just around the corner. As we entered the house, it was like going back in time - to an era before we were born, but one we were too familiar with, when visiting the houses of elderly Aunts, or Grandparents. The atmosphere of calm and security was gently enveloping, as the tour progressed, we navigated ourselves around the rooms, upstairs, downstairs and outside. The house had only come on the market the day before, so we were the first prospective house-buying visitors. We liked it very much, although it needed rather a lot of renovation.
It was as though the owner had just stepped out for a moment to give us some privacy to view their property without hindrance. I thought, "how kind."
A nightie was hung behind the door in the master bedroom upstairs. There were three packets of cough sweets placed on the kitchen side. Everything was in it's place.
The truth was very different. Audrey, who had lived here for over 45 years, had suddenly been taken poorly, was admitted to hospital and died after a few days. Although this was such a sad fact to know, this place felt like one that had been loved.
We bought the house that evening.
When I entered the house for the first time after our purchase, there was someone already busying in the kitchen. Margret. She explained that she held a key for Audrey's house - they had been best friends for over 40 years, and Margaret lived next door. She was trying to pack up all the glassware into newspaper, to be given to charity, and she hadn't quite finished before I had arrived. She had packed up all of Audrey's clothes the week before, and tried to clear the house as much as she could. Audrey had a brother who was visiting later in the day (to collect a dining table, a couple of chairs and a fan), but most of the organising of the disposal of personal items and furniture had been left to Margaret, as far as I know.
I said that I would help pack up the glass ware and take it to the charity shop. We chatted for a while made a drink, and looked out of the kitchen window together. Margaret told me that all the daffodils in the back garden had been planted to give Audrey 'a nice show' in the Spring ... it was such a shame that she never got to see them. I immediately warmed to Margaret, and felt so sorry for her loss of a dear friend. It was in my mind that over time, we may become friends, too.
In clearing the rest of the glassware from the kitchen cupboards, I came across a Homemaker plate, and a Staffordshire jug, and also a small deer ornament that was left alone in the dining room. I decided to keep them as an inheritance from Audrey, a small mark of respect, that she, and her late husband Albert's memory, would dwell within these objects, as long as we lived here.
Margaret and I are now great friends, and she still holds a key to this house. We talk about Audrey and Albert from time to time. The stories she has told me ...