“Maybe that’s the owner!” I said pointing in reverse.
“Who?” My husband asked.
“That lady with the walking stick! Grey-haired, all hunched over . . . by the side of the road. Didn’t you see her?”
“Well anyway, she looked like an Eleanor.”
I knew the property owner’s name from the disclosure papers sent to us in advance. The legible cursive signature was clearly that of an elderly woman.
We drove another 500 yards or so past the For Sale sign to the next road then turned around and headed back for our showing. As we neared the spot where I’d seen the old woman I looked all around but she was gone.
“Huh. Must be she stopped in to see the neighbors. Probably passing time while we look around.”
Pulling in the drive the I thought how rare it was that a house actually matched its advertising photos. The white cape cod was staid. There were no ornaments . . . no Eleanor-like bird feeders or flower beds dotting the yard. It was a seemingly blank canvas. We parked and as soon as we did the broker pulled in and waved. We were both on time.
Aaron unlocked the back door as I held the screen and as once the door jimmied open I found the basement was directly in front of me– the tiny kitchen one step up to the right. Beige appliances circa 1970’s were spliced between pine cabinets—a worn greenish counter with a long white farmer’s sink lay firm across. The ceiling was haloed with a round halogen tube.
“It’s certainly functional.” I said. “And I love this sink! I’d keep it for sure!”
“And add a nice granite counter top!” My husband chimed in.
“Granite? No.” I couldn’t imagine. Too many home make over shows I reckoned.
Walking across the linoleum we entered the dim living room where the binds were still drawn. Two cushioned rockers and a sofa fringed the edges of an area rug. Nothing but a cross hung on the walls. The wood floor, visibly worn where it peeked through, would have to be refinished.
The nook-like bedrooms, two up and two down, contained beds that were neatly made and little else. One had a dresser—another contained a desk with a Bible and rosary placed just so. The walls were again bare save for one photo of the house as it stood years ago looking much the same; and a framed diploma from Notre Dame law. I opened closets and built in cabinets to find all but one were empty.
Outside was much the same. The long narrow lot had no plantings— just a fence row that indicate the property line and a woods toward the far back. There was a nice clothesline but that was it. Non-descript one might say.
As the broker locked up the house I spotted another, or was it the same, grey-haired woman across the way on the neighboring property. It looked as if she was picking something from a bush. I hoped she would notice me and wave or something but she didn’t so I turned away and headed towards our car.
“It was along the lines of what we were looking for . . . the best we’ve seen so far. We’ll be in touch.” My husband said to Aaron.
I squeezed my husband’s upper arm, “I really liked it!” I said. I can just picture us here!”
As we got into the car I told him about the woman I saw near the bushes. “I’m not sure it was the same lady I saw when we first passed by . . . her posture was different.” I said.
“Why don’t you go over and say ‘Hi?’ Ask her if she’s seen any deer running around.”
The broker had already pulled away so I hopped out and went around back but the woman was gone.
“You know, it’s strange. I couldn’t even tell if someone was living in that house or not. If Eleanor still lives there she certainly lives a minimalist lifestyle. I wonder where she’s going after all these years . . . Florida perhaps, or maybe just in town?”
That morning at just past three, I awoke once again with a terrible anxious feeling. I opened my notepad and began to type. I thought, “If I’m feeling unstable I must look for that upon which I can steady myself– the things I know I are true and can count on.” I typed, “God listens, I love you, and simple is best.”
We went to see a perfect house we wouldn’t buy because quite honestly we didn’t know what lay inside.