When her grandparents died, they bequeathed their farm to her. Ten acres, nestled in the mountains of North Carolina and far from the beaten path of civilization. She had spent her early childhood there and remembered happy times.
After finally getting out of an abusive, almost life-long marriage, she decided to uproot and leave the world she had always known behind her. She needed something to occupy her thoughts and her time. After having been a companion and a mother for more than forty years, she was now alone and on her own but she was also free to do anything she wanted.
When she got to the farm, it was like taking a step back in time. Peaceful feelings wrapped around her as she walked into the house. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. It smelled like old people and old things. The front room furniture was just as it had been for the last forty years. The burgundy sofa where her grandpa sat and wrote in his little book was still at rest as were all the other pieces, with the exception of a turquoise recliner that her grandma love to sit in.
A smile came to her face when she looked at the wall and saw a picture she had painted when she was twenty-one years old. The picture of her great-grandfather still hung in its mahogany, oval frame. As she looked at it, she could almost hear her grandma telling her grandpa that she had dreamed she saw her daddy the night before. There was an air of excitement in her voice when she told him because she had never seen her daddy.
The oil-fired furnace stood squarely in front of the fireplace and had been the only source of heat. Grief came over her for a moment when she remembered her pet lizard. It got brutally cold in the mountains and she was worried that her lizard would freeze if she left him in her room so she put him on top of the furnace. It was a hard lesson to learn at the tender age of eight.
She moved from room to room and smiled as the floors creaked with each step. Nostalgia seemed to be hovering in every corner. Her grandma and grandpas’ room was straight off the front room. Their bed was covered with a quilt, made from her grandpas’ old shirts and overalls. Her grandmas’ hairbrush and a jar of Ponds’ Cold Cream still sat on the dresser.
It was in that dresser that she had found her grandpas’ gun when she was “knee-high to a grasshopper” as her grandma used to say. She remembered that she was trying to pull the trigger when her grandpa caught her. He looked at her sternly and said “you mustn’t ever touch this again.”
Years later when she was grown and thought about finding that gun, she figured the angels must have been in the room with her that day.
The room where she stayed was in the very back of the house and slanted down toward the yard. She sat on the brass bed she always slept in as a girl and heard the familiar squeak of the springs. Her youthful self was revived for a moment as she bounced up and down.
She could almost hear the windows rattling, the way they did when the cold winter winds arrived. She ran her fingers along the sill where the snow used to tease its way inside. The walls in “her” room had been covered with newspapers. There was no money for real wallpaper and they helped cover the cracks.
Her grandmothers’ Singer treadle sewing machine still sat in the corner. She remembered how many times she watched her grandma sitting in front of it, with her feet dancing back and forth as the machine patched the rips in her grandpas’ pants.
In the kitchen, the old wood stove was still there. Her grandma had cooked all the meals on that stove, including oatmeal every single morning. She knew she would never be able to figure out how to cook on it and momentarily toyed with the idea of selling it. It would probably command a pretty penny but it was her grandmas’ stove and to her, memories meant more than money.
The plastic curtains still hung over the windows. How her grandma had coveted real cloth curtains but there were other things that were more important and money was tight. The old meat grinder was attached to the corner of the table and the bucket that held grease drippings sat beside it. The farm sink which looked so huge when she was little still had the brightly colored skirt her grandma had made to hide the plumbing.
Just off the kitchen was the enclosed back porch. Her grandmas’ washboard and tub were poised on top of an old stool, as if waiting to be used. A homemade bag, bulging with clothespins hung from a nail just above them. Neatly folded in a basket were three of her grandmas’ aprons and a pair of her grandpas’ long johns.
Walking into the bathroom brought back a flood of memories. She was there when her daddy helped her grandpa install their first indoor “necessary room.” That’s what her grandpa used to call the outhouse.
While her daddy and grandpa were putting the finishing touches on the new bathroom, her grandma stood in the doorway and watched with wide eyes, like a child getting a first glimpse of presents on Christmas morning. It was the first time in their sixty-plus years of life they had ever had an indoor toilet.
The old pedestal sink and claw foot bathtub had the same old timey fixtures, which had long since rusted. She smiled as she turned the handles and although they squeaked like an out of tune flute, they were still functional.
As she walked back into the front room, she thought “I need to name this place.” For some reason the word “Farthington” came to mind. She knew that her grandpas’ ancestors were originally from England and she also knew that her grandpa had a treasured farthing that had belonged to his papa.
Their last name ended with “ton” so Farthington was, she thought, perfect.