‘If these walls could really talk’

Red Deer designer breaks down that common phrase

Life has a way of throwing us curve balls and it can hurt quite a bit if you aren’t good with a bat. Since March I have attended six funerals for people close in my life ranging in age from 23-98. Every service had a different vibe depending on age, faith and reasons for death and I have found that everyone discovers grief in their own way. Every person lived a completely different life and resided in different homes; some large and some small, some humble and some grand.

For the death of my granny who was 98, her room at the seniors home was quickly cleared out and given to the next person in line. For some of the other funerals I have attended where fathers and sons were lost, the spaces they inhabited have been preserved and untouched while the families take time to process what has happened. Cherished items are stored or given to family and everyone takes their memories with them to be dusted off and viewed at a time when the heart is ready.

For some, it is the comfort of the items being near that keeps the tears away and for others everything needs to go into a box and be tucked away out of sight. It can be easier to rearrange everything that reminds you of that person – especially after a long and drawn out illness, yet with a sudden and unexpected passing it is often easier to leave everything as if time has stood still.

However you choose to manage grief it can still jump in unexpectedly; the other day I made an apple crisp to welcome fall and to enjoy the bounty of our tiny yet brave apple tree. When I opened the oven and the fragrance came pouring into the kitchen, my sweetie reached for the phone and then stopped himself, ‘I was gonna call my Dad’. The items belonging to his father have been stored but the scent of apples and cinnamon brought him rushing back as if he was still just up the road, waiting for an invitation to coffee.

Our homes house a lifetime of memories, laughter, tears and grief and no amount of redecoration or modification will quiet those voices that have travelled up and down your halls. The phrase ‘if these walls could talk’ is closer to truth than we may realize. The home that we have chosen to live in gives us more than shelter and identity – it gives us a protective coating to live our lives in privacy and peace. There are very few places in life where we can curl up in a corner and cry when life gets hard and when we are missing those we love.

For a structure with four walls and a little bit of wood and mortar stuck together, our homes are a wondrous fortress for our lives. Whether we choose to immortalize those who have lived before or decide to whitewash the memories and start again, our homes continue to be the memorial and keeper of our life and its history. Even after we have moved on, that house is still a mighty tribute to the lives that have lived within its walls and we pay homage to its sentry with every shelf we paint and every repair we undertake.

Kim Wyse is a Central Alberta freelance designer. Find her on facebook at ‘Ask a Designer/Ask a Realtor’.