Every now and again when I am rattling around in the Manse, I am caught up short (and sharply) at how absolutely full of memory every square inch of that place is for me. I mean, yes, it stands to reason; it is the house I grew up in, and that I have now come back to after an interval of almost four decades. So of course it’s filled with memories, and most times I just bumble along with that notion just buzzing around in the background. And the fact that Raymond and I are creating a new (though very part-time) life at the Manse means that often the older stuff really is shoved into the far background, and I’m focused more on new things that are happening that will make newer memories.
But the other evening as I was climbing the front staircase (not to be confused with the back staircase), I caught myself absent-mindedly thinking, “Yeah, that’s the place where John got his head stuck between the banister posts.” And of course it was: when he was very little, my little brother John one day got adventurous (or something) and managed to get his head in between two of those posts. After which (you can see where this is going) he couldn’t get it back out again. Much wailing and worry ensued on the part of little John; much hilarity on the part of his mean older sisters, Melanie and me. I imagine it was Dad (who was the United Church minister, which was the reason we lived in the Manse) who came along and calmed everybody down and got John’s head back where it belonged (which was not in between the banister posts). In the years since then – this was probably 1968 or so, when John was 4, and that was not exactly yesterday – Melanie and I have every now and then hauled out the old story for a bit of a giggle at John’s expense.
But what hit me so much the other evening wasn’t so much being reminded of that long-ago comical (especially in retrospect) situation; it was the fact that I can look anywhere, anywhere, in that house, and come up with memories. Probably dozens of memories per square foot. Stories that would be too boring to the average outsider (you, good reader) to bother relating, but that mean something to my family and me.
What a gift it is to be in that place full of memory.