Laughter rises in the air as happy accented voices intermingle behind me. The rooms are cooler than our house at home, their walls bursting with too many things for me to take in at once. My fascination has my mouth slightly opened as I walk slowly, my eyes scanning each inch of space. It’s all foreign to me, foreign and fascinating. It’s all a part of who I am.
How have I lived 12 years and never known that a part of me was half way around the world? I have known the people who are here, I’ve met at my home on visits…but this…this is REAL. This is my father’s childhood home.
Apprehensively I continue down a shadowed corridor where the sunlight doesn’t reach. I am absorbed by the feel of the thick wallpaper on my fingertips, had my Father touched these walls as a child? Did his feet walk upon this faded rug? Were the pictures on the wall back then?
The happy voices remain behind me and my courage to explore builds. At the end of the corridor is sunlight streaming in from a doorway which is my destination. As I cross the threshold of it I am blinded by the sun and I close my eyes to adjust to the brightness.
As I open them I am met by a glorious sight, a vision of rich color which confuses me. My hand instinctively reaches out for balance and falls upon the warm stone of the house as my brain takes a moment to register it all.
Opening my eyes greenery and blooms abound in front of me in a spectacle of life, this was what I’d seen in books, and it amazes! As I stand absorbed in the spectacle of this English garden I feel a gentle hand on my shoulder. Turning my head quickly I am greeted by my Grandfather’s quiet smile.
“Lovely isn’t it?” he asks me.
Confusion written upon my face I ask “But how?”
“Come with me” he said and envelopes my small hand in his, guiding me into the garden.
My Grandfather leads me upon a flagstone path to the ancient shed, reaches out and lifts a garden hose from its resting place.
Placing the cold wet hose into my hand he says “With time, love, and nourishment anything can grow”.
In that moment I pondered the time it must have taken to breathe life into this garden and the love which must have encouraged the effort.
That day became my first memory of my quiet Grandfather which is relived each time my fingers touch a garden hose.