This red wine always tastes so much nicer in the evenings when the house is quite. But then again, a quite house leads to a busy mind.
There are so many memories contained within the walls of this house. Every square inch of them hold picture frame after picture frame of beautiful smiling faces. Pictures that turn from sepia browns and black and whites to colours of all kinds. Their one shared trait; the striking eyes of our family.
We’ve always been revered and respected in our community. A long family history in the oil business and stocks and shares are the reason behind the wealth that has been passed down through generation after generation in the Hamilton household. Not that money meant much to us. And we take great pride in always being a part of our community, even though we seldom go anywhere now after what happened.
“It’s always nice to give something back”.
Oh when I think of the person who used to say this to me all the time, I feel like I’m all part of some bad dream that I’m going to wake up from. I find it difficult to look at his photographs, his well lived life, the way he was an example for people to follow. How he opened his arms to me when I was introduced as Martins girlfriend. We met in college, and I knew instantly that we were going to be married. Even to this day, when I close my eyes or I think about Martin I can see those amazing eyes, etched into my memory. I will never forget the sadness that possessed them when he was caring for his Father. 10 years later, I can still see it in them. And even though he sleeps, he is never fully rested.
Old man Hamilton they called him in the neighbourhood. A sentimental nickname that shone through the amount of people who called to our door when he was reduced to palliative care here at home, asking if they could be of some assistance to Martin and I and the family. No matter how big, small or insignificant the job may have been, there was always someone to help. I will never forget the amount of people from all over that came to his funeral that day. The old barber shop that he used to go to for a hot towel shave shut its doors and pulled down its blinds. The diner that he went to every year on the same night of his wedding anniversary, even though Martins mother had been dead for years, did the same. But it was reflective of the man he was. And I know he would have appreciated all that.
But what really makes me so upset is looking at the pictures scattered around my home. Because inside them is the little face that has been around since 1983….my Richard.
Scattered and broken memories that I cannot jigsaw back together because the man that held us in one piece, is now gone. And even though its been 10 years since the old mans death, I still hold out hope that my son will come home.
I remember that evening when the old man took his last breath and how he whispered to me that I wasn’t to hold out any worry about the future, that he would make everything right from that big old place in the sky. He knew how much I fretted and worried about the most stupid things, and even though he was the one that was dying, he wanted to make me feel at ease. He pushed something into my hand as Martin looked on, and before I realised what it was, he was gone.
It was his handkerchief that he dabbed my silly tears with time and time again, saying to me “Jeez Carol, you need this more than I do”, and he would laugh and squeeze me with his arms and whistle Don’t Worry Be Happy, until I laughed too. That night I slept with it outstretched on my pillow, my cheeks hot and damp from my tears. I could feel the embroidered H push against my flesh. Martin laying silent and vacant beside me. The whole night I could see the flicker of lights, all different shades of colours and tempos, projecting across the bedroom wall that came from the old mans garage. Richard stayed up the entire night, for nights on end until the funeral. He turned on every machine and he played every song on the juke box. I walked in every morning to find him sleeping on the seat of the car, photo albums strewn all around him. He was wearing a look of complete shock. My son had aged. And it broke me in two.
Thats why I find it difficult to go in there still. Most days I tend to the small garden that the old man loved to take his hand to himself, when he wasn’t playing golf. Something will catch my eye and I’ll just find myself being drawn inside. It smells of damp now, and the dust has made it difficult to stay in there long, but it feels like the old man. It feels safe and comforting – it feels like home.
I walk inside and the first thing I see is that old red convertible that the old man won in a bet. The car that lost me my son. I put my hand down to touch it every time I am there. Like a corpse lying in a mortuary waiting for someone to claim it. I can nearly feel all of the happy memories of it through that dusty sheet. After the funeral and the crash, Martin just couldn’t cope with Richards behaviour. For days he went drinking, called me terrible names, refused any help or any efforts from Martin and I. It broke our hearts. But after he crashed the car Martin just had enough, sent him away to dry out and two weeks later we got a phone call to say that Richard had signed himself out. That was the last we heard of him.
Here I stand again inside this tomb. This vault of memories that is drenched in happiness but is dried up in hope. Something inside me makes me want to tear off this suffocating blanket of dust, pull off all the sheets and make everything alive again. I know the car is pretty damaged but if I could just fix it up then maybe something might happen…..maybe our Richard will come home. It’s nearing August and the day that I met my beautiful boy for the first time. He’ll be 35 this year. Wherever he is.