They say it takes a heap o’ living to make a house a home. Part of that heap o’ living was the tornado that took the trees out of our backyard two days before our daughter’s wedding. We thought the tornado would ruin things. We cut the trees into logs out back, tried to make room for people to walk. But they just sat down on those logs, and laughed.

The father-in-law was a musician. He and his friends brought their instruments and before I knew it this place was jivin’. The mother-in-law had a trombone. She got pretty happy with her champagne. She was all over the house with her shoes off.

That’s one things I remember about this home. It’s well over a hundred years old, just six years older than I am. We’ve been here fifty years. We came because it was country-like and quiet. That road to the east of us used to stop before the railroad tracks and the street behind us was just a dirt path that went up to a house in the woods. Now the traffic makes quite a bit of noise.

I like to garden. We’ve got crocus, tulips, iris, peonies, and lilies. Just a blur of color. Though raccoons, rabbits, and squirrels are very good at harvesting my crops. When I’m not gardening, I like to lie down over there on the couch. I’m old, you know.

I interviewed Mr. H ten years ago for a newspaper article about his home. I visited him a couple times after while out on walks in his neighborhood. I could have listened to him talk for hours. His wife was quiet, had entered the stages of dementia. A year later, I moved to Minnesota and Mr. H moved into an assisted living facility. I was not surprised–he had told me that when he could no longer care for his wife, he would have to take her there, and he would never have her live there alone because once in a while she was lucid. And how awful, he said, if she woke up in those moments completely alone. So he went with her. 

I moved back to the area in 2007. Six months later, I heard that Mr. H passed away at the age of 100. I’d always meant to visit him.


4 responses to “Meet: A Nonagenarian”

  1. Katie Null Avatar
    Katie Null

    I never even met him and I liked him just based on the stories you retold to me.

  2. Barbara Ackles Avatar
    Barbara Ackles

    Touching and a nice tribute to Mr. H.

  3. Hallie Sawyer Avatar

    It is nice that you got a glimpse into someone else’s world, and was able to be a part of it. When people share themselves with you, their private lives, I think it is an honor. And you honored him back by sharing this post. People of a certain age have such great stories. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Thanks, Hallie. He always thanked me for listening to an old man drone on, but you’re right–it was an honor to hear his stories.

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