The House. Death. Dad. Thank You.

By Diane René Christian

The photograph is of the house that I lived in with my father for 8 years. The house itself was originally an outbuilding to a main house but somewhere along the way the property was divided. At some time or another the building was used as an art studio. Before I lived in the house a dear friend of my grandmother’s resided there. Her name was Mildred.

I have vague memories of Mildred. I liked all of my grandmother’s friends so I am sure I must have like Mildred too. Mildred had polio (I believe?) and, in the midst of my parents’ divorce, Mildred passed away. She was sans kin and the house was left to my grandmother who subsequently gave it to my father and me to live in. I was thirteen years old.

What I do vividly remember about Mildred was her things. Mildred was a hoarder and nearly every inch from floor to ceiling was piled with her hoards. She was particulary fond of TV shopping but she never seemed to get around to opening the boxes. When we combed through her things, after her death, many of the boxes were still sealed. All of her wares went into an estate sale and it was quite a site to see those wares spread out and filling a banquet hall.

During the cleaning of Mildred’s house, as we prepared it to be ours, we unearthed a soiled canvas painted by the artist who some years earlier resided there too.

The house is 560 square feet. When you walk in the door you enter a garage which holds an unfinished bathroom with one exposed wall. When you walk up the stairs you enter a space that would hold a dining room table and six chairs max. But, there was never a dining room table but instead two recliners and a TV. Behind the recliners are a miniature stove, sink and cabinets. That is the sole living area.

My father and I each had a bedroom but originally our rooms were one. My dad put in a dividing wall making two perfectly even small rooms. I remember when the rooms were still one.

Before the room was converted we went to visit the house with a few of my dad’s friends and their three sons. One of the sons was a boy that I was sure that I was 'in 13 year old love with’. His moppy blonde hair and searching eyes and lean strong boy body were impossible to resist. We swam in rivers together and explored trails and forests and by him I felt understood.

Fortunately he deeply admired my father. Unfortunately he listened to my father’s warning to never lay a finger on me. Only once did he break my father’s rule. 

While my father and his friends were discussing how to rehabilitate our new home the kids entered a room that was to become two bedrooms but still remained one. We went in and for some reason we decided (probably because the house had a touch of a spooky feel) to hold a séance.

We sat on the floor in the dimly lit room and we all closed our eyes. Somebody started the séance and then I felt a hand grab on to mine and squeeze. It was his hand. He kept his hand inside of mine until we were all to open our eyes and then the hand was gone and it was like it never happened. But, it did. My body remembers it well. It never happened again.

Our house and the main house shared a driveway. As I grew up and grew into new relationships with boys I never let them into our home until they really knew me and things seemed serious. I am ashamed to admit this but I would stand at the end of the driveway and allow my date to infer that I was coming out of the main house. Most people assumed that our house was a garage. Indeed the realtor who has our house listed right now describes it as.

Tax Records call it a one story bungalow. I would consider it a converted barn or garage, dating back to 1929. Great potential as an artist’s studio. Enter from the rear into what appears to have been a garage.

If I could go back in time I would wait for every date by leaning against our house and take them inside to meet my Daddy.

The last time I saw my Dad he was sitting in his recliner upstairs. I kissed him goodbye and walked slowly down the stairs staring at him and him staring at me. I said- I love you Daddy. I will see you again soon.

He smiled back and I kept walking until I reached the door and made it outside. I nearly fell to the ground as a wave of fear gripped me and gobs of tears split my eyes. I must have known. Maybe he knew too.

Days later Dad collapsed on Gram’s floor. He wasn’t breathing.  At the hospital I spoke to a kind doctor who requested that I cease life support efforts for my father. She told me that he was gone and if he somehow came back... he wouldn’t really be here anyway. I said – Ok. You can stop.

I don’t really know how I said anything coherent at all but it was clear enough for my dad to be pronounced dead.

My Dad kept my bedroom exactly the same as it was the day I moved out in my late teens. It stayed that way until I cleared my childhood space in November of 2009. I was 37 years old.

I remember when I was teenager and I was going to the bathroom in the ‘garage’ bathroom with one wall missing. There was a spider that emerged but it wasn’t an ordinary spider it was a hairy spider of nightmare proportions.

I screamed to my dad upstairs that he needed to come down immediately.

He remained upstairs and screamed down at me- You need to take care of this yourself.

And I was furious. My dad was my hero. He was my rescuer. Why wasn’t he helping me now?

I managed to circumvent the spider beast and I found a broom. I whacked and whacked the broom and the spider alluded me until finally I dealt it a fatal blow.

I swept the beaten spider into a dust pan and plopped it into a Ziploc bag. Even in shrunken death it still seemed sizably frightening.

I put the sealed spider next to the kitchen sink and wrote a note to my Dad.

I did it.

And the next morning I found a written reply from my Dad.

Good for you.

 My father was not a verbal man but he always signed his letters to me xoxo- Dad.

xoxo to you Daddy. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Copyright © 2010 Diane René Christian. All rights reserved.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Diane René Christian, author of An-Ya and Her Diary, is an award winning short story writer turned novelist. She was raised in Pennsylvania and spent her childhood years playing in the fields of Valley Forge Park.  She now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her two daughters. Visit her at

Follow by Email