Rick adjusted himself on his chair. His back hurt more than usual these days. He watched the red and orange leaves fall to the ground. Winter was not far away.
A woman walking her dog stopped outside his house to see the pile of household items lying beside the sidewalk. Rick watched her skim the pile and pick up a beautiful teapot with a pink rose on it. Susan used to make tea for them in that teapot for years until their daughter gifted them a new one a couple of years ago and this one got pushed to the back of the shelves. It only came out now, while they were clearing the house.
The woman walked on and a soft jingling sound drew his attention to the sign on his front yard. ‘For Sale’, it read. Rick glanced at his watch. He should leave for his walk in about thirty minutes. That was when the next party was coming to see the house.
“It would be easier if you are not there when the viewers come,” his realtor had explained.
Which part of this was supposed to be easy, Rick wondered? Watching strangers pick up bits and pieces of the life that he and Susan had put together over six decades? Or letting go of the house in which their children had grown up?
“Dad,” his son peeked into the living room, where Rick was seated by the window. “Will you be needing these speakers or should I let them go?”
Rick waved his hand in dismissal. Nodding, his son walked to the end of the driveway and added the speakers to the pile.
What would he do with speakers at the retirement home? There would be no Susan to dance with. They used to do that every now and then. Play some of their old favourite songs and dance to them. Not a wild jiggle, but swaying to a gentle rhythm, holding each other in their arms.
Rick had never been a dancing-kind-of-a-guy. But one did these things to please one’s woman. Susan had always loved music and dancing. Now, as he watched a car stop by to scan the items for scrap metal, the back of Rick’s eyes burned. Maybe they should have danced more often.
It had been six months since Susan had passed away. Rick had spent most of the summer outdoors to keep his mind preoccupied. But now with the harsh Canadian winter knocking on the door, there would be no mercy from painful memories. Every door, knob and nail in the house had memories. And so, he had finally accepted his son’s suggestion to sell the house and move out.
Rick had not wanted to be a part of the painful cleaning up process. Packing and disposing off those little and big pieces that had comprised his home and life. And yet, here he sat, watching from his window as the young woman from two doors down approached the front of his house. Her four-year-old came running behind her. Rick knew that this family was new to the country and were still setting up their home. He also knew that Susan would be happy that someone was giving her beloved plants and pots a new home.
He sighed and sat back. Maybe that was how he should see it. That ever-decreasing pile outside his house was a way in which Susan would continue to live on. Her life and her memories were finding their way into a dozen other households. Those paintings that she had collected over a lifetime and Rick had helped her tack to the walls, would now bring happiness to other homes.
Rick glanced at his watch again. It was time to take his walk.
“Son,” he called out. “I will be back in a while.”
As he walked out and across the road, he saw a red car stop outside his house. A young couple got off and walked into the house.
Fifty years ago, that couple had been Susan and him.
Now it was time for another young couple to start their own journey.
In Search of Love... a sweet love story!
Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.