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My grandfather built a house for my grandma. The house is large and tastefully decorated. He wanted the house to be lovely for Her to grow old in because he assumed that She would live longer than he would. The house used to be beautiful and big and full, and now it is cold, enormous and empty because he lives in it all alone.
The house always smelled like fresh bread or muffins and in the morning, you wanted to wake up early to catch the bacon and biscuits. The smell of bacon was an alarm clock unto itself. There was always something in the oven, on the stove, or cooling in the fridge. Fresh lavender and basil from the gardens was hidden in all the rooms that seemed to make the house more like a benevolent deity than a structure of mortar and stone and wood. Now the house smells like cleansing solution and air conditioning. The windows never get opened anymore, and this became clearly evident when grandfather’s burnt eggs splattered against the ceiling. There are no more pleasant or awakening smells.
The gardens around the house provided fresh fruit and vegetables. There were always raspberries to be picked, sweet peas to be shucked, or potatoes to be peeled. In the non-edible gardens different flowers and trees and shrubs were blooming and growing at different seasons. Even in the early spring and late fall, something seemed to be just emerging for you to see. At the end of the growing cycle, the herbs were dried, the flowers were pressed between the pages of a large volume, and the fruit turned into preserves. Now a professional gardener does rounds of watering, picking, and storing. The gardener doesn’t make paprika from dried paprika peppers. He does not leave raspberries for us to pick, or sweet peas for us to shuck.
The house used to be filled with the sound of cooking shows, or Her voice gibbering in Hungarian. She would speak to the dogs and squirrels outside, and often to the plants in her greenhouse, or on the window ledge of the kitchen. Now all that you can hear in the house are echoes- of footsteps and doors closing and car alarms beeping and Pavarotti’s pretentious tenor blasting at full volume. You cannot hear your own thoughts, and neither can the plants, because a large Italian bellows about lost love.
The house if for sale now, and I hope that whoever moves in can make bacon and bread. I hope they know how to dry herbs to make spices. I hope they know what flowers bloom in what season and I hope they know that wide-open windows make the best air conditioning. I hope the house once again becomes a benevolent deity that welcomes and warms another little girl.