The Healing House :: A Work of Fiction

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I can feel my head starting to clear, as I pull the car over and park. Coming here is like pressing a reset button for my day. Looking at my grandparent’s old house across the street, I let my mind take me back to my childhood.

There was my grandmother, sitting on the steps, waiting for our arrival. Through the screen door, I could see and hear my grandfather, flailing his arms around and griping about something.

I remembered my grandmother’s big smile, when we pulled into the driveway. She’d wipe her hands on her apron and run to us with her arms wide open and ready for hugs.

After the hugging, we walked in to the house, letting the screen door slam behind us. My grandfather would bark, “How many times do I have to tell you … don’t let the screen door slam shut!”

“Oh Grumpy Gus,” my grandmother would say to him. “That’s the sound of visitors.”

“Yes, well, the visitors can close doors quietly, too.” He’d chuckle, while walking into the living room to greet us.

My grandparents died over 10 years ago. Their house sits abandoned, heavily aged due to neglect. Their children, my Mom, two Uncles and an Aunt, are too old to care for it; and the busy life of their grandchildren, my cousins and me, keeps them from breathing life back into the place. No one wants to let go of the property, though. The memories are too strong. Personally, the spirit of this house counsels me through the times when I let my anger get the best of me.

“Anger is exhausting, Thelma.” Grammy would say to me. “Use your power to zap the anger, don’t let the anger zap you.”

My grandmother spent years watching anger zap Grampy. He earned his title ‘Grumpy Gus’ honestly, though his real name was Gerald, not Gus.

When I was really young, I remembered Grampy being a cranky man. I didn’t fear Grampy, but I didn’t go out of my way to spend time with him, either. By the time I was a teenager, my grandfather was a changed man. Any griping or groaning he did was done in jest.

While still young enough to get away with it, I remember asking Grampy what happened. “How come you’re not cranky anymore?” I asked. He laughed out loud and said Grammy told him he had better get over himself or else she was going to leave him. I knew that wasn’t true, but I also knew I wasn’t going to get anything else out of him.

Grammy told me stories about how Grampy would get so overcome with his anger; he’d end up passing out like a man who had spent the day drinking. “Oh, he was never a threat to no one.” Grammy said. “Except the rocks, he sure kicked the heck out of the rocks. In fact, once he kicked a big rock so hard, he broke his toe. Oh Lord, that made him even madder.”

Grammy didn’t recall one specific event that changed Grampy. She said he just passed out after a fit one night and woke the next day determined to never let it happen again.

“Oh, he’d still get upset.” She said. “But, never again did he let the anger get the best of him. He found the strength to zap the anger before it zapped him.”

Unlike my grandfather, I am still a work in progress. My grandmother was always there to encourage me during my fits, and she always told me she knew I’d overpower the anger eventually.

Sometimes, like today, when anger’s energy seems to be getting the best of me, I return here, to their house. I don’t find Grammy sitting on the front steps, and I don’t see her big grin and open arms; but, I feel her energy, and her energy always overpowers my anger.

Suddenly, I notice a glimmer of sunlight shining through the living room window, and I feel a surge of energy come over me. I smile and say to myself, “I hear you Grammy.”

I reach for my cell phone and call my husband, “Honey,” I begin. “It’s time to bring this house back to life.”

.|.

Please note: this is a work of fiction.

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62 thoughts on “The Healing House :: A Work of Fiction

  1. This is just so lovely. The images of your grandmother waiting for you and wiping her apron… And I love, love this “Anger is exhausting, Thelma.” Grammy would say to me. “Use your power to zap the anger, don’t let the anger zap you.” Words to live by.
    I hope you get to bring that house to life.

    • Thank you, Heidi. This is a work of fiction, though I know first hand that anger is exhausting. I was inspired by the house and a conversation with a friend. I’m quite pleased with the result. Glad you enjoyed it, too.

  2. I think my first clue that this was fiction was the line about the grandkids being too busy to fix up that house. If that property was in your family, I know you’d have it sparkling by now. Good story, Lenore.

    • I don’t know, Erica. That house is in pretty bad shape. The dollar signs are many, when I I see the work and money involved in fixing it up. 🙂
      I am glad you liked the story. Thank you!

    • Thank you, Robbie. Like you, I create stories in my head, but the stories rarely make it to paper. This one made it out of my head, because I see the house daily, and I captured it for my picture-a-day last week. I am glad you enjoyed the tale. Thanks for visiting.

  3. Oh LD I loved that so much!!! It seemed so real! I love that you made him literally pass out in anger. I get that, only I literally pass out with anxiety/stress. Some people get so mad they cry. But never sleep. Excellent interpretation.

    I’m totally impressed with your thought process.

    • I’m not proud of my anger/temper, but I’m honest about it. I could easily pass out due to anger. Perhaps it would be best if I did pass out. I’m much better than I was – still, anger is a tough beast to fully conquer. The conversation I had with you and the photo of the house inspired this post, Kim. The instant I told you anger is exhausting, the story unfolded before me. So, thank you for chatting with me. You are part of the reason this post exists. I’m glad you liked it.

  4. That was great! I would never have guessed it was a work of fiction if you hadn’t added the footnote. As I was reading I was thinking that I wish I’d had a relationship with my grandparents like the one you were describing. Nicely done!

    • Welcome to the neighborhood, Delilah. I appreciate you taking the time to comment, and I take it as a compliment that you thought this was real. The house exists – and I will certainly remember this post every time I drive by it. I hope my anger will no longer get the best of me, too. 🙂

  5. Great story. And so believable that several people thought you were writing your story. That house reminds me of my Dh’s Grandma’s house in Tennessee, that was given to Dh upon the death of his father. The first thing we did was put on a new roof- red metal, and painted the house- white. It needs more work than we can afford to give it. Hoping Dh’s brother would take it on so he would have a house of his own.

    • Oh M2M, I like the fact that you have a house in your life similar to the one photographed. I’m glad it was given a little love and brought back slightly. A new roof counts for a great deal, as it keeps you dry. (smile) I love metal roofs, too. Thank you for visiting. I am glad you liked my tale.

  6. What an interesting exploration of anger and the way places (and people) hold onto the energy around them! (And isn’t it fun to make up stories about actual, dilapidated houses? They always seem so romantic!)

    • Yes, Emily! I love making up stories (in my head) about dilapidated houses. Romance, mystery, drama – if only the walls could talk, eh? Oh how my imagination runs wild. Thank you for visiting my neighborhood. I appreciate your comment.

  7. Lenore, This was great storytelling. Very believable characters. I would love to keep reading more about this family and the rehab of the house. (I’ve always dreamed of having a big porch.) I hope you continue on with this!

    • Thank you, Jennifer. I am glad you were drawn into and liked the story. My husband and I are genuinely curious about the house. We’re not looking to buy it, but we’d love to find the story – we are certain there is a story. Thanks again, Jennifer.

  8. Oh, I loved this. What a wonderful piece. I could see a novel woven around this: the story of Grumpy Gus, the shaping of childhoods, the restoration of the house. I really do feel like a ray of sunshine has been brought into my morning.
    So were you inspired to write the story because of the house in the photo or did you take the picture to go with your story? Ellen

    • Thank you very much, Ellen. I sincerely appreciate your compliments. For this post, the picture came first. I took it last week, while taking the boys to school. Later in the week, I was chatting with a friend, and I made the comment, “Anger is exhausting.” The rest – as they say – is history.

  9. Stacey

    Thanks for bringing back memories of going to visit my grandparents (although thankfully, my grandfather was no grumpy Gus).

  10. origamibirds

    What a lovely piece. Your characters were very real and easy to relate to. I can understand Grampy’s anger. I know I get angry too often, too, particularly when it serves no real purpose. It’s my Irish temper. 🙂

    Loved the picture of the abandoned house. It brought the whole story to life.

    • Welcome, Katie. Thank you for visiting this here place. 🙂 The story was fiction, but the anger – unfortunately the anger is real for me, too. I hope to reflect back to this story and find the strength to zap my energy before it zaps me.
      I am glad you liked the post and photos. Let me be the first to wish your Irish-self a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Cheers!

  11. You are so talented, Ms. D!
    And creative! Did this story come to you as a result of passing the old house in these photos, or is it a piece you had been working on before? Either way, it’s wonderful… so well written it really does feel like it could have been crafted from personal experience rather than imagination!
    🙂

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