1304 Rio Grande, Austin, TX 78701

We found ourselves near that old familiar house so I asked Jacob to stop at 1304 Rio Grande. I wanted to get out of the truck, I wanted to visit even though I knew no one would answer the door. Mr Gage had this loving relationship with his home. He was always doting on it, tackling maintenance issues and making improvements. Mr Gage would say, "People ask me why don't I just sell this house and buy something brand new that doesn't need any work and I tell them, I wouldn't know what to do with myself. I enjoy working on my house. I wouldn't know what to do if I had something shiny and new that needed no attention at all. I love my house." Every day he would get up and begin work on his abode as early as 5am. On Saturdays, I'd drop in close to noon and he'd take a lunch break that would sometimes stretch on to 3pm.

Our visits. We'd sit and I'd disappear for hours. No one knew how often I'd visit Mr Gage. I'd escape in the middle of a work day and then pop back into the office before going home. I'd visit after work or sometimes skip work altogether driving to his house instead. He would tell me that he was hoping I'd show up or how he had just been thinking about me because he found some Mexican pottery or a book on silent film stars. Once he paid me the biggest compliment ever, he said he had just seen an Audrey Hepburn movie and thought of me.  I fell in love with Mr Gage and his very ordinary life lived with an extraordinary spirit but I also fell in love with his home. It rambled on and on and he'd let me wander in it because he knew how good it felt. I'd tell him how it felt like a place in a story book to me.

How very sad it was to arrive at his back door  for the first time since he passed away. The house has been emptied, possessions sold or tossed, some structural odds and ends left behind. At his door step, the house felt thin, it sits like a mourning spouse who has lost too much weight from grief. The clothespins that hung his Saturday wash were still sitting on the wire under the overhang he built. It's been many months since they held his plaid, cotton shirt with the snaps or his scarf. The colorful piece of old wooden fencing that stood along the street had disappeared. Looking through the windows was shocking and I teared up.  I realized it was the day before Easter, I always visited the day before Easter.  There in his back yard I noticed the flowers and his walkway of tiles and suddenly it was as if his grief stricken widow was hugging me. Goodbye house, so sorry your loving occupant is gone and I do worry about what is to become of you. Goodbye, Mr Gage, oh the things I wish I could tell you, I have so much to share. I took the clothespins off the wire, put them in my purse then left.