Tom and I purchased our house in 2001. It is a modest house, but it is one we can afford. Poor financial forecasting left us with a mountain of debt, thus as most of our friends have moved from their starter home to their luxurious 2500 plus square foot homes in fancier suburbs, we have stayed here.
When we bought it, it was our house, but over the course of these eleven years, we have made it our home. Each room has been painted the colors we like, and we have added touches to make it personal to us. From the Ballerina I painted on Carson’s wall, to the Budweiser holiday stein collection in the basement, we have made a home where our personalities shine through. It reflects who we are in every way: fun, playful, comfortable, and care free.
Recently, the girls and I were heading out. I told them to go get in the car, I just needed to grab my keys and purse. Maggie walked back in the side door. “Mom,” she said, “Someone just pulled in the driveway.”
I looked out the kitchen window and saw a red car with a 35ish year old woman I did not recognize. I gathered my purse and keys and walked out the door just as she got out of her car.
“Can I help you?” I asked, pulling the door shot.
She was looking at the house and the landscaping. “It’s so different.”
I was completely perplexed. “Excuse me?”
She took her eyes off the house and focused on me. “Hello!” She put out her hand to shake mine. ”I am Edith’s granddaughter Melanie. Your house is so different from when my grandmother lived here,” she said. Edith sold us our house in 2001.
“Nice to meet you, Melanie.” I was a little bewildered as to what made her show up in my driveway after all of these years. “Yes, we resided the house a few years back, got new shutters, and completely redid the front landscaping.”
“It’s lovely. Your home is lovely,” she said as tears welled in her eyes. She put her hand on her chest and took a deep breath to hold back the emotion she was feeling. “My grandmother recently passed away,” she told me.
“Oh, I am so sorry. Edith was a very pleasant woman.”
“Yes, she was the most amazing woman I ever knew,” she said looking toward the backyard. I was a bit uncomfortable. I did not know why she was here, and the girls and I were on our way out. Was I supposed to invite her in and show her all the other changes we made to the house? It definitely did not look anything like it did when Edith was here.
Melanie looked at me holding my purse and keys and the girls who had decided to sit on the front porch.
“I’m sorry, you’re on your way out.”
“Well, yes, we were just about to leave when you pulled in,” I said.
“I was wondering,” she said as a tear fell out of her eye and rolled down her cheek, “if I could dig up one of the zinnias from the backyard. My grandmother and I planted those flowers together, and I meant to dig one out when she sold, but life got so busy I never got around to it.”
“Um, we do not have zinnias in our backyard.” I felt sad for her. She obviously felt regret for not taking the flowers years ago, maybe even Edith had said that she wished she would have dug them up.
“Near the garage?”
“No, we do not have flowers near the garage, but you are more than welcome to take a look,” I said.
“Thank you.” She headed into the backyard.
“Mom, are we leaving soon?” Lizzie asked.
“Yes, Honey, in a minute.”
I started to head toward the backyard when Melanie came into sight. She looked utterly disappointed.
“You put in a patio where the flowers used to be,” she said. We had torn out the flowers that she planted with Edith; they were fertilizer and mulch now.
“We layed that patio in 2004. I’m sorry, I don’t even remember the flowers,” I said.
She looked at me and smiled. “You have a lovely home,” she said again as she grabbed my hand with both of hers. “I am sorry I interrupted your day.”
“No. I am sorry for your loss,” I said. She was so overcome with emotion she gave me a brief hug.
“It was wonderful to meet you. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to see the yard again,” she said.
“It was a pleasure to meet you as well,” I said.
She walked to her car, got in, and pulled away. I stood for a second and thought about life. Life changes so quickly and morphs into something else, something you never imagined, something unfamiliar.. This house that she played in as a child, where she romped and frollicked and laughed, was no longer the house she remembered. It had changed. What used to be so familiar to her is now nothing that she recognizes. I felt a tinge of sadness for the passage of time, for the death of dear Edith, and for the zinnias that no longer exist.