The Mansion

Keep it Real Wednesday

March 10, 2021

The mansion

The other morning, Rosemary said she wanted to share “the most beautiful dream”.  She ate a bit of breakfast and we waited for the weather to warm up before we could go for a bike ride and talk about her dream.

She said she dreamt about her childhood home and described it in detail room by room.  The modest house was located at 1953 West 45th Street in Cleveland and was built around 1900.  Her Mom and Dad rented it from Mrs. Kaiser who was the owner of the local coal company.  Rosemary said she had great memories of her Dad painting the front porch each year and how her mother would carefully keep the tiny house immaculate at all times. She smiled as she talked about the parlor area where her parents would spend most of their time reading and talking.  She said her Dad, Michael O’Malley would drink one beer every night in his chair while her Mother, Marie O’Malley would sip her cup of tea.  Michael would carefully pour part of his beer into an ashtray nearby for their dog Spooky, and every night Marie would shake her finger at him for giving the dog beer. Money was tight, as is was for most people in the depression era.  She recalled how her parents would save for expenses when her dad was paid, putting a few dollars under the lamp for coal, a few dollars in a drawer for rent, and money in the cookie jar for food.  It worked for them.

Rosemary’s gaze softened even more as she recalled the sewing room in the back and the couch next to the sewing machine where she would sometimes find her Mom taking a quick nap in the midday sun.  Rosemary smiled as she bragged about their front porch and kitchen as the hang out place for all the teens in the neighborhood. She said her home was always full of life.  It was a much simpler time and some of Rosemary’s most precious memories.

When I took Rosemary back to Cleveland for her 60th 8th grade class reunion years ago, I asked her to show me her childhood home.  As we turned the corner, excitement in her face grew to dismay as we could clearly see that only an empty lot remained at that address.  After talking to a few people in the neighborhood, we found out the house burnt down and was never built again.  To this day, only an empty lot remains on Zillow.

As we reflected on these things on our ride, she said to me “I know God has a mansion in heaven for each one of us but I think my mansion is going to look just like my childhood home at 1953 West 45th street.  She smiled with a tear in her eye and said, “I know my Mom and Dad will be waiting for me on the porch”.

We rode a bit further in silence and I contemplated all she just shared with me.  The memories, the joy, the deep sense of loss of not having seen her parents for so many years and the joy of that future reunion.

What a beautiful thing to look forward to. 

(pictured Rosemary’s Dad, Michael Thomas O’Malley, waiting for her on the front porch, and the empty lot where the O’Malley home was located)

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