When my purchase offer was accepted, I called my mother and told her that I had reclaimed our family home. When I told her that I was planning to live there after it was refurbished, she laughed. She never understood my obsession with the old place.
Later, while we sat at her retro Formica kitchen table and sipped chamomile from my grandmother’s Sunday china tea cups, she talked about bygone days in the old farmhouse.
Mom retold tales from her childhood, and warned me that we might find strange things when the walls came down.
“When your granddad was building the house, we kids decided to ‘lose’ the razor strop he used to whup us.” She chuckled recalling her siblings’ mischievous rebellion. “It was never boring with us.”
I couldn’t image how my mother, and her brothers and sisters, being raised in a strict Baptist home, could be anything but subservient.
“Just before the last of the interior walls went up, your uncle Ross, and uncle Peter and I tossed that strap inside the framework.” she said. “Dad never did figure out where that old leather belt went.”
I had heard this story before, and wasn’t sure which disturbed me more – the fact that my beloved, gentle grandfather beat his children with a thick leather strap, or that my mother thought it was amusing.
The frightened whispers of the workmen brought me back to the present. Looking down at the bundle of bones the foreman pulled from the walls, I wondered what my mother would say about of this.
*A continuation of “Family Secrets.”