Granddad called out once more, "Is anybody home?" The echo answered again, but this time in a quieter way. You would think that the echo would be telling us to go away, but it was not. It seemed to be beckoning us in. I felt this, and so must have Granddad, for he took the first steps toward the door.
As we walked, the old grey boards gave sound to our footsteps, that hollow clopping sound that horses' hooves do make on solid ground. The two chairs that were rocking slowed their back-and-forth almost to a stop, but not quite. It was as though the ghosts within them were watching to see what we woud do. Would we enter in? Would we accept the unspoken invitation?
The door was of heavy wood painted in many coats of glossy black paint. The upper half was a work of art, etched and frosted glass, done in curly-cues and vines, held solid with a lattice work of iron. The door knob was much simpler, almost too simple for such an elegant door, a white ceramic knob and nothing more, no lock, no latch, no nothing else.
My grandfather's hand went toward the knob and in a few moments of suspended time, I took deep notice of the Old Man's hand. It had the look of tired, well-earned wisdom. Knowing hands, intimate with the price of the labor that loved demanded; hands more natural in their opening up that in their gripping down; hands that could hold with equal reverence the heavy leather of draft horse harness and the soft skin of a grandson's up reaching fingers. They were the hands of a soul that have lived far more years than the man who housed it.
That hand turned the knob and the door opened, more by its own will than the will of my grandfather. It was as though it had been waiting a long time to be opened, patiently waiting.
The interior of the house was perfect, lived-in perfect. It was if the very moment before, a well-mannered family were present doing the stuff of life: the father, a well-disciplined, all-things-done-perfectly-well kind of gentleman, the mother, a meticulous housekeeper, a lady of the manor, the children, well-mannered and cooperative in their expected chores, an older girl, a young boy. But now the moment after, there was emptiness where there was a family the moment before.
We had stepped into a lingering memory that had not yet faded from this world.