Yesterday I looked at a house for sale. An old Victorian house with one of those original tiled paths that starts at the gate and continues to the front door. I stepped tentatively into the large hallway and consequently back in time. Actually, back into someone elses time, I suspect. It soon became obvious that the house was inhabited by an older resident. Photo’s of smiling and serious family faces, historical and modern, sat proudly on wobbly tables. Lovely old furniture, some pieces that had seen better days and many a family function, stood proud but tired in the splendid front room. China cabinets stood firm against green walls, it felt as if these furniture pieces had been in the same place for a very long time. Special china and glass pieces sat at odd angles within.
I walked quietly, not wanting to disturb the old place, somehow it commanded respect along with its owner. The bedrooms looked well slept in and on the tall hallway walls were old brass hooks with fabulous felt hats lined up on display. The back of the house represented an attempt to upgrade, go modern even, some time ago. The garden was overgrown but in a rather enchanting manner. The rain and the cold added a gloomy atmosphere.
My thoughts kept returning to the resident of the property. I knew nothing about her but had a strong sense that she had been there for a very long time. I tried to imagine what the circumstances could be for her to be moving now. Was she unwell and moving to be closer to family? Did she have family members that would care about her, look after her even? Was this lady moving to a smaller home, maybe a new unit that had all the modern commodities that older people, or their families like them to have in old age? The musings were endless.
I remembered when I was child and my parents bought a small farm. On the day when we arrived to take possession of the property the elderly farmer was leaving with his daughter. I wondered, as children do, why he was crying as he drove out of the long driveway for the last time. It transpired that he was ninety-two and had lived on the property all his life!
And yes, not all people live in properties or houses for long lengths of time these days. In fact many people move about and live in dwellings all over the world but familiar space is very important as we age. Particularly I suspect, space that has significance or history attached to it.
So, today I’ve been thinking about the lady in the Victorian house. I will never know her story or her outcome. However, her old house has given me a chance to think about, try to imagine even, what it might be like to give up a meaningful attachment in older age.