The Memory Remained
written by: Theodora Oniceanu
She was my great-grandmother. A woman who belonged to a Hungarian family and married a Romanian officer. She was one of a kind, a real lady who stood by her husband in their good times as well as their really awful times. And by God, they went through some really ugly hard times!
When I was little, a couple of times at least, if not more, I was taken to see the old house, spent some time in their little garden… They weren’t rich people, but they always managed through skill and behavior which must have meant good discipline and healthy morals. The stories of them and the work left behind spoke of this. There was always this silence there, odd, bathed in the sun that witnessed their dark clouds brought over them in the past, one getting the feeling they were on holy grounds or something; yes, the silence there was deep, like in a church, a feeling they mustn’t make any bad noises, you know, the disrespectful kind there. It wasn’t the case, at that stage in my life, yet, it felt like not hurling and shouting and being too loud, but respectful.
Their house, neat, was kept like that for as long as possible. Whenever I entered the place, I felt like in a museum today, back then getting only the sense of things left behind for us to remember the good in simplicity, the richness made out of the ordinary, the elegance in the peace the healthy habits bring along the way. That lack of excess is what made it all look good. Still, there was richness and there was significance in the faithful work of their hands greater than the first glance could tell. Nevertheless, one could sense it, it was there to be felt, revealed to the mind as the eyes watched the patterns of their own hands’ work all over the place, bathing in the soft pervading light of the day through the thick veil covering the window.
And the smell there, always pleasant. Always reminding of something that is holy. Tears of a good soul washed all the impurities there. It did smell like a church. The heart of pure was poured there, all the rivers of pain the war had caused washing this entire soul’s sins, blessing the meaning of true love that lasts for more than just that which is promised for only a lifetime. Their lives together, blessed with the strength they needed to go on as there was love and there was soul to bother for.
Every time the impulses took me to the “guests room”, as grandmother seemed to have worked for some rich people to also learn a few things about how to make her household more welcoming, there was this inner arrest holding me back from barging in like a raccoon or some other foul beast they fear now less than the terrorist attacks – humans? Bah! They’re harmless! – some barbarous creature up for no good. It wasn’t allowed to touch things in there! There was this sense of sacred work that must be kept as left: in perfect order. Indeed, their life together imposed deep respect.
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