This Old House
July 15, 2012 § 9 Comments
The Maine house is old.
It’s a good house.
A pretty shingled house.
It was designed by the famous architect William Barry in 1888 for his aunt, Mary Cleaves Lord Coleman. Her husband Walter Coleman had bought the two lots it would sit upon as a wedding gift to his bride, and though she died before it was completed, he spent many of his summers in the beach cottage until the end of his life.
Over time there were small changes made to the structure of the house, but to this day, the place looks much as it always did.
Once, a long time ago, my mother said she saw a vision of a woman in the doorway from my bedroom (back when it was her bedroom) heading upstairs to the third floor.
I’m a believer in such things; not sure what really happens when we die, but all things being possible, why wouldn’t old souls walk the floors of this historic old house.
One night last week I put the girls to sleep while the sun was still shining, tip-toeing downstairs for some time to myself; a great feat that I didn’t pass out in the sweet space between my daughters.
I wanted to watch my shows, my Showtime shows, whose exquisite writing allow me to escape in half hour increments.
To my delight, Weeds had begun again after a great big cliff hanger last season that had left me praying for Nancy all winter.
The episode (two of season eight) did not disappoint; my heroine didn’t die from the presumed gunshot to the head, but had come full circle from housewife to weed connoisseur to criminal mastermind and back to sweet Nancy.
The episode followed Nanc through the hospital during her recovery.
Upon the final scene, my heroine pulled and heaved to climb a set of stairs which was the litmus test for her discharge to freedom. Wearing knee socks and silver clogs (part of the reason I love her so much is her eclectic and always interesting shoe choices) she wobbled and grasped, careful in her footing and determined to make it to the top.
The camera held still at her back.
I held my breath and sat perched on the edge of the striped upholstered sofa.
Out of my mouth came the exalted prayer for Nancy’s survival. I heard my voice exclaim with hope and certainty, “Nancy! Don’t fall!”
And in the instant that the words escaped my mouth, before she turned to face the screen, came the smack of a picture frame (an embroidered sign carefully enclosed) that chose to leap from its settled place against the wall.
The splat of the frame as it hit face down on the built-in book shelves, which hold the television, the frame, and a hundred other dodads collected by my mother over the years, left an eerie absolution that I was heard. But heard by whom?
My mouth hung open as Nancy’s smile declared she’d won the battle. She’d made it to the top with determination, ferociousness and strength.
Mom, who happened to be seated to my left looked at me wide-eyed and stunned; the moment becoming powerful in the assemblance of the parts.
In every day there are signs that alert us to our paths.
Maybe if the frame had fallen minutes after the show had ended we would have chalked it up to the wind.
Maybe if it had fallen moments before we would have been irritated by the intrusion to our heightened excitement over our program.
But it didn’t. It fell at such a moment that no doubt could be explicated. It was a sign, literal and metaphysical, just for me.
My faith has been wavering as of late (as my divorce is imminent), but that moment let it be restored.
I am not alone, despite the nights that I feel utterly so.
And in that reminder came a new peace, albeit a temporary peace; an assurance and awakening to the fact that there is something greater than I that will be with me as I travel this path I have chosen.