My next challenge was the dining room. As I stood in the middle of that big, empty room, I was suddenly taken back to the days of a simpler time. A time before computers and cell phones and video games. A time when families sat down together at dinnertime and talked about their day.
A wonderful round oak dining table with lions’ paw feet was one of the pieces left behind that I kept. A good polishing was all it needed to be a warm, inviting place to, as my grandmother called it…”sup.”
A wood-burning stove was sitting in front of the fireplace on a bed of slate. I wondered how many times the family had dined while being warmed by a fire in that unique stove. A flu cover was still hanging on the wall and I took it down to clean it. It was made of plaster and a paperclip had been embedded for hanging. On the front, a set of smiling cherubs floated on billowy clouds, and looked as though they didn’t have a care in the world.
As I was sweeping, I noticed something under the stove. When I picked it up, I saw that it was a Bible. My first thought was that I wished I could return it to the previous owner but I didn’t know who they were. I sat down for a minute to take a look. It was a Scofield Reference Bible. I had never heard of that. I always thought a Bible was just a Bible.
Inside the pages, I found numerous pieces of paper. One was the church budget for the year 1994. There was an article from “The Work Of The Holy Spirit” titled “Being Faithful.” Somebody had written on the top of the page, Monday 12th, 1989.
An interesting one was a small piece of paper dated 9-9-84. It was hand written and said, “Funeral Home Is Expensive.”
There was a tattered bookmark that said “Capricorn.” I knew that Jesus was a Capricorn but I was fairly certain that this was not His bible. The owners’ name had been imprinted on the front in gold letters but was so badly worn, the only thing I could make out was that he was apparently a “Jr.”
I was completely enthralled. There was mostly scripture references but one thing caught my eye. Somebody (perhaps the owner of the Bible) had a sense of humor.
There were jokes about old folks. They were funny and a few of them were a bit risqué. I had spent what seemed like hours going through the Bible and decided that I could finish at the end of the day while I was resting. All together, there were 38 pieces of paper tucked inside the pages. Before putting it down, for some reason I looked inside the cover and found another folded note.
It said: “I bought this Bible for my daddy when I was 13 years old. I saved my lunch money and took neighbors’ mail to the post office for 10¢. It took a long time to save up the money but I don’t think it meant that much to him.”
I went from “aw, how sweet” to “oh, how sad.” It wasn’t signed or dated and I have no idea who wrote it.
I busied myself cleaning, taking down ceiling panels and carrying loads of rubbish to the curb. As I was inspecting the mantel in the dining room, I found another folded piece of paper stuck behind it. This was becoming almost like a scavenger hunt to me. I was excited as I opened the note and started reading.
It said, “Dear God. Please don’t let Granny die.” It was dated 1959.
“Somebody loved their grandmother,” I thought. I knew the feeling. I loved mine, too.
I was truly enjoying the notes I was finding, and I was absolutely mesmerized, but one question lingered. Were these notes written by a little girl or a little boy? The dates were on them but I had no idea how old the child was.
I was nearing completion of the dining room and as with the living room, there was an element of sadness, coupled with the feeling of accomplishment. The last task was cleaning the windows and as I was spraying them with Windex, I noticed a small piece of paper hiding behind the casing.
I pried it out with a small screwdriver, sat down and carefully opened it. It said, “Dear God. I didn’t mean to be bad. Could you please make me a better little girl?” It was dated 1957.
I jumped up and cheered to the point of embarrassment. The mystery was solved. The notes had been written by a little girl. She had obviously done something wrong, at least in her eyes. I couldn’t help but smile, wondering what she had done to make herself feel that she was so bad, she needed God’s help.
Weeks later, the dining room was finally finished, so I decided to work on the upstairs bedroom that I had claimed for my own. I had previously noticed a small room, in the very back of the house that appeared to be unfinished. It may have been an afterthought of whoever built the house or maybe it was just an incomplete addition and my focus was temporarily diverted to that little room.
It only had baseboards along two walls and the one small window seemed out of place. The rest of the house had grand windows that were 10 feet tall, and this one couldn’t have been more than two feet by two feet.
The walls had been partially painted a dull blue color. I didn’t think it could have been a bedroom, but if it was, it could have only supported a twin bed and even that would have take up most of the space. Whatever its purpose, I would take as much care with it as I would take with all the other rooms.
My thoughts were to turn it into a library of sorts, putting shelves along the walls and maybe a comfy chair and lamp in the corner. I started removing the baseboards. They proved to be formidable foes, but I finally succeeded in getting the first one to yield. When it surrendered its grip, a note fell to the floor.
I sat down and opened it. “Dear God,” it said. “I hate you.” The date was 1964.
The notes had just spanned eight years and I wondered why she now hated God. I felt so sad for her, but like threatening to run away from home; haven’t we all at some time, been a little pissed at God?
The other baseboards hid nothing but screws, a bit of plaster and a few broken fingernails.
As I worked in the bedroom, I was disappointed when I found no notes behind window casing or baseboards, or mantles, but the closet hid a secret staircase into the attic. I had always been an adventurer and this was going to be fun.
If there was an old abandoned building on the side of the road, I would stop and wander through, although with a little trepidation and the fear of the possibility of being arrested for trespassing. I once found an old yellow Tupperware bowl, complete with the lid, and I still have it.
I wondered what secrets lay hidden in the attic. Maybe another Tupperware bowl. Maybe nothing. Either way, I was ready to play Sherlock Holmes.
To be continued__________________