IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK -- Two Decades of Happy Memories
Our three-bedroom ranch-style house sits on a hushed cul-de-sac overlooking a verdant marsh where ibises and egrets stalk. A purple bougainvillea owns the view from the kitchen window. A fragrant gardenia bush guards the front courtyard. Inside it’s a comfortable and happy Florida home where I’ve lived for nearly 20 years with Mr. Wonderful.
I don’t have to look closely to see that the pink and blue couch cushions have lost their once vibrant zip; but then again, so have we. The yellow swivel chairs creak a bit when we plop down in them and the wall paint looks a tad on the tired side; truthfully, so do we.
But if you measure the worth of a house by the parties and entertaining enjoyed there, this place is richer than Fort Knox. And now, as we pack boxes and suitcases to move from 2113 Greenbriar back to Maine, its easy to remember special gatherings where we huddled around the baby grand piano, kitchen counters and Mexican tile bar.
A treasured event took place 14 years ago, on a sunny February Saturday, when step-daughters Amy and Lisa hosted a baby shower for their “new” sister Alex. Nearly 20 women watched a plump and glowing mother-to-be open adorable blue onesies, cashmere-soft receiving blankets, even a highchair— all of which we shipped to her home in San Francisco to await Max’s arrival.
“You’ll really like these guys,” Mr. W told me one March afternoon several years ago. He was referring to his Blue Tee Group, a golfing gang of low handicappers headed by a Commissioner who planned bi-weekly games. “In fact,” Bob said, “I’ve invited them all for hamburgers next Saturday.” Once again the walls seemed to expand as the Blue Tees and their wives settled on couches, chairs, even the floor, listening to their host strum his guitar and sing our family anthem, “Kennebunk Beach.”
Most Decembers we have gone north where the “the weather outside is frightful” but it feels more like Christmas. One year, however, we were in Florida. Hoping to ignite the holiday spirit in the 70 degree weather, we invited friends and their visiting families to a Christmas Eve party. Luminarias lined our driveway and the antique pine dining table featured honey-baked ham and Amy’s “famous” mustard sauce.
As the evening grew late, we gathered around the piano. When we had finished singing “Silent Night,” the 13-year-old granddaughter of dear friends offered to sing it again — in German. Listening to Ellie’s crystal clear soprano voice perform an a cappella version of “Stille Nacht” brought the magic of Christmas home to all of us.
We’ve enjoyed Thanksgiving turkeys here with other “orphans,” celebrated Mr. Wonderful’s end-of-December birthdays, and offered corn beef and cabbage to friends on St. Patricks Day. The wine stains on the carpeting enhance the patina of a house well used and truly loved.
Oh yes, there have been sad times here, and occasions where harsh words were spoken. It is a home! But now it belongs to someone else. Sic transit gloria!