Munner and Granddad’s House
I was pretty sure my life would come to an end that day. I was at Munner and Granddad’s house. You need to know something about that place for any of this to make any sense though.
Munner and Granddad’s is a magnificent split-level home in a quiet and beautifully forested neighborhood in Dallas. It’s protected by the green hillside it’s built into – a safe space for those who enter, and ample room for all. It was built to house and grow a family and that it did with unrivaled success, but quickly found a parallel purpose of housing beautiful furniture. Grandad, you see, was an auction enthusiast. He knew how to find those things that were beautiful, but worn or a bit broken and bring them back to health and vitality. The basement workshop was always full of new refinishing projects and consequently the house was always full of past refinishing projects. Some are regal, some stately, most sturdy, all beautiful, at least one – a chamber pot. The wood tells the story of the place, it’s everywhere. It’s eclectic in style, it’s beautiful, it’s worn and renewed, and it’s whimsical too just like the family who spread their wings from there. But it’s the beauty of the wood that brought me to what I thought was the end.
I’d been running around all day up and around the greenhouse atop the stone wall in the back, down into the workshop where the cold drinks were kept, up to the playroom where you could play with vintage GI Joes while hiding from whoever was “it” in our game of hide and seek. The time to leave had come before I was ready for the fun to end. That was a problem that only a goody bag could solve. A paper sack filled from the “gum drawer” with tasty treats and a small toy or two served as the sweetest bribe I’ve known. I’m told it kept my kicking and screaming to a minimum. I collected mine and headed toward the front door. Fueled by an afternoon of fun and cold drinks from the workshop, I decided to forego the stone steps down and decided to slide the banister instead. Goody bag in hand I swung my leg over the broad, polished wood banister, hugged it tightly, and let gravity do its job. A strange and foreboding sound I’d not heard in past trips down accompanied me. A sort of scratching sound. When I turned to look I felt the blood drain from my face. The button on my jeans etched a line in the wood from top to bottom.
Grandad would never have laid a hand on me. He probably wouldn’t even have raised his voice to me. My dad would probably get an earful for allowing me to do that though, and for that I was sure my dad would kill me. Somehow the sun rose again the next day, and the day after, and so many days thereafter that the line in the banister at Munner and Grandad’s has become just a part of the whimsy of the place, a part of the story of our big, beautiful family. It is curious why someone so skilled at refinishing never repaired the banister. I have my theories as to why, you may have yours too. One thing we share though, is this: our lives are full of moments we thought were the end, but somehow we’re still here bearing the marks of those moments; our lives all the richer for them. There is a scratch in the banister at Munner and Granddad’s to remind us of that, and it’s a good time to be reminded.
There will soon be a sign in the yard outside this magnificent place. The time is right for some other family to take up residence there, but all of us who grew up there have to admit that this “right time” feels at least a little like an end. It’s hard not to reflect, because we’ve played in that house to our heart’s content. We’ve celebrated holidays and birthdays and just-for-the-hell-of-it days there. We’ve shed tears there as we said goodbye to some of our own and we’ve welcomed new family, so much new family! We’ve been angry with one another there and we’ve laughed together there. Some of us even got married there!
Soon enough I suppose the agents will come calling and they’ll show their clients the place. They’ll show them the bedrooms, but they won’t know which one is the sewing room and which is the creepy room I wouldn’t go in as a kid. They’ll show them the attic space, but they won’t know that’s the play room. They’ll show them the garden in the back and the rock garden in the front, but they won’t know how many lizards we caught there. They’ll see the fireplaces, but they won’t know how many munner-knit-stockings hung there. They’ll see the whole place, but they won’t know our story. In all there’s just one thing I hope they don’t leave out of the tour. With any luck the agents will show their clients the scratch on the banister. If they see that, they’ll know that we were here and in the end that’s all that matters.