Piano lessons all the Page children lived. Della, who taught piano to neighbourhood children, but not her own, sending them out to others. Her children, and later, her grandchildren. Less complicated, that. I practiced my own thirteen years of scales on the piano she also did, purchased new for young Della to begin, later transported in the back of my father’s Ford pick-up from Kempville to homestead, hired man in the back holding on the long, slow drive. Do I remember correctly?
An undated postcard, uncertain precisely when. Discovered in an envelope of paper scraps, cards, envelopes left over from her mother’s apartment on Heron Road, scrawled somewhere up to September, 2000. Marked but unaddressed, her mother’s name; unmailed, delivered by hand, writing:
Thought you would like this picture of a loon. Heard them a lot + saw a couple flying overhead. Having a good time. No rain for two months, so no campfires. Kathy loves campfires.
Clipping of newspaper scripture, astrologies, death announcements, Mother’s Day cards, some handmade. A postcard from daughter-in-law Shirley from Egypt, November 2, 1997. The bonfire pit at my sister’s house now, just past where our other grandmother spent years walking peelings to compost for her garden. Eggshells, potato peelings.
Lives boiled down to a household, household boiled down to one-bedroom apartment, set down into boxes and scattered. What does a house know? A dresser that made it to my apartment, another that made to my daughter’s front door. Various grandchildren picking at furniture, wondering where it might go, where we might eventually put it all. Three bookshelves adorning my hunkered front room for years, a box load or two of hard covers.
During one of my mother’s mid-1990s hospital stays, asking about what would happen next, not wishing the farm out of family. I knew she couldn’t escape. Your sister will get it, she said. Oh, you’ll get lots of money. Misunderstanding the question: not what I wanted myself, the oldest son, covering my ears, not wishing to know my parent’s net-worth, for any reason. Not for a long time.
I think I told her then too, you will outlive us all.
Where do we send memory? What becomes of the words that we say we remember?
Silence: what a terrible burden to bear.