‘But only a host of phantom listeners,
who dwelt in the lone house then
stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
to that voice from the land of men…’
Walter De La Mer
On our first day of house hunting we set off in a anticipation of seeing a three story house in the middle of the French countryside, near the beautiful town of Lassay Les Chateaux.
We met up with the French estate agent, and off we went following him through the countryside at breakneck speed and found ourselves going out of Lassay back the way we came!?
Blimey! We thought, this is a way out!
As we pulled into a quintessential tiny French village, there was no sign of any three story houses. We followed the estate agent into what can only be described as an alleyway rather than a road that ran behind other houses, it was so small you could not drive into it, definitely no three storey houses here! The estate agent then stopped and proudly showed us a tiny house, tucked away between other houses.
‘I am sure this is not the house I had arranged to see.’ Said Karen, but by this time she had booked so many she was starting to doubt herself! So we decided to go where life takes us, and followed the estate agent into the house.
As we walked in it was clear that the house had not had someone living in it for some months and that the person who owned the house had been a lady, and that she had clearly died. It had literally been left like the Marie Celeste, with all her belongins just where she had left them the last time she had come home. The tiny kitchen and living room looked as if she had just got up one day and left, forgetting to take her coat, that was hanging on the back of the door, or her sunglasses, in the dish on the table, with her. The canisters for her garlic, salt, pepper and coffee were all there, just waiting for her to come back and start to cook again.
And that was it, the house had an air of sadness permeating through it because it was clearly waiting for her to return; it was sad because every time the door opened it was a stranger that entered and not the person who had so clearly loved it; in fact it was if it sighed when we came in, because we were not the person that it wanted to see.
It was a strange tiny little house with only one bedroom in the main house and the kichen and living room; you had to climb some steep steps into the bedroom, the lady had clearly not been wealthy but it was also clear that what she had she loved. Never more so in the pretty little two tier garden at the back, which could only be described as a haven, something that she had cherished once. With the lilac tree, and wisteria tangled and trailing over the little archways she had put up; there were roses, and blackcurrants, clematis and the ever popular and beautiful hydrangea, in all of the vibrant colours that you get over here in France growing in abundance.
The lady had built a little arbour which was now smothered with all of the climbing plants vying for top space as they tangled amongst each other because there mistress was no longer there to bring them under control.
Outside there were more steps leading up to a separate bedroom, come apartment where, the estate agent explained to us, her son would sleep when he came to visit with his family. But you got the distinct impression that was not often, and it made you wonder why he had not come to collect some of his mother’s treasured posessions.
It was so sad, her family photos were everywhere, nobody had come to the house to take them and the memories that they held and cherish them, as she so clearly had. It reminded me how our cherished posessions are just things, that when we are gone they just sit there with nobody to love them anymore. That the memories that we cherish are often not memories that others cherish, even though we have those people in our memories all our lives, they do not hold those memories as dear as we do.
As we left the sad little house it was glad we were not going to buy it, it did not want us, it wanted it’s mistress to return, and, I am sure, would continue to look after her treasured things for her, because it did love her, more than others it would seem.
Cherish every moment folks, live for yourself and not just others, you come into this world alone and you go out of it alone, so live your life for you and those that love you will come along for the ride.
It’s always the small simple things that remind me of what life is about.