Tuesday, May 28th, 2024

O On The Front Porch With You by Rob Lauer
Memories of Home


I'm sitting on the floor of my parents' dining room, though one would never know it. The furniture that once made it a room for family dinners has been sold. Gone, too, are the carpets that my mom carefully chose after our family moved here 53 years ago. The hardwood floors I'm sitting on are beautiful. My parents worked hard and pinched pennies during the first 15 years of their marriage to afford this house, so they took care of it.

My mom was artistic with a sentimental view of the past. A stay-at-home mom in the days before most mothers worked outside the home, she lovingly poured her creativity into decorating this house. The living and dining room decor was Victorian, but despite the formality of that style, these were the rooms where my high school friends wanted to hang out when they came over. And Mom loved that. “I want beautiful things in my house, but I still want it to feel comfortable and homey,” she'd say.

The rest of the house was “Early American,” decorated with an eclectic mix of rustic antiques - wrought iron tools, late 19th-century school desks, an antique Singer sewing machine, a Hoosier cabinet. And everywhere one looked, there were little arrangements of antique bottles, toys, oil lamps, and candles—along with Mom's own creations: framed cross-stitchings, tiny oil paintings, hand-cut silhouettes,  patchwork pillows, and folk-art dolls. Mom's creativity made this house a home.

Mom passed away 14 years ago, but my dad kept the house as she left it until he, too, passed last September at age 94. Now, my brothers and I are preparing our childhood home for sale. We've each taken the pieces that mean the most to us. The rest have been sold, leaving things such as the lovingly preserved clothing stored in my parents' cedar chest: Mom's wedding dress, Dad's cap and gown from his college graduation, our old baby clothes, the dress Mom wore to my brother's wedding, and my paternal grandmother's wedding dress from 1913. They are now folded on the floor next to me, and I can't bring myself to discard them.

And then there are the family photos. In the 1970s, unbeknownst to us, Dad apparently became unbelievably prolific with his Kodak camera. Boxes of snapshots filled one closet. Drawers, chests, and even antique hat boxes were stuffed with hundreds more - too many for my brothers and me to take.

I sit on the exposed wood floors in what was once our dining room, going through piles of these photos, sorting the forgettable ones from those that evoke long-forgotten memories and waves of emotions that are difficult to process. On a deep level, I know the memories and their attendant emotions are what matter most - not the physical objects that inspire them. If all these things disappeared, I would still have the memories. They matter more than these things.
Knowing this, I continue sorting. But it's hard.

Rob Lauer is an award-winning, nationally-produced and published playwright with over 35 years of experience in the entertainment industry. His national credits include production work for MGA Films, Time/Warner TV, The Learning Channel and The History Channel. Locally, Rob has been producing, directing and hosting three TV series for PCTV (the City of Portsmouth’s official channel) since 2011.