I knew it would be difficult for Jim to leave. He lived in this house for 82 years. He was born in this house. He brought his wife back here after they married and they went on to spend 49 years of marriage within these walls. Her energy seeps from the ancient stones, bringing with it various aromas of cooking and scents. I have met her several times in the six years I have lived here. She passed in February 1998. I always wondered if she waited for her husband, intending to take him onto another place where they would spend eternity together, their wedding vows forever promised. It came as no surprise therefore, when I spent the best part of Friday in Jim's old bedroom, hoovering the new carpet, wiping down walls and reflecting on the six years in which I knew him. I had to keep stopping my chores as Jim spoke to me once again, laughing at me as was his way. I placed an old chair outside the bedroom door while I hoovered, red velvet upholstery lining the seat. He used to enjoy watching me as I worked, my domestic interest was very minimal and it was somewhat of a novelty for him to see me cleaning. As I cleaned near the doorway, leaving the door open slightly, I saw a figure, standing in the hallway. My neck creaked as I turned my head in haste, desperate to catch the manifested spirit.
Jim left a few jars of spare change in his wardrobe. He had saved it for many years and always told me about it, asking me to help him sort it out should I ever find the time. When I first moved onto the farm, in the days when I laughed with Jim, we both sat at the kitchen table one afternoon and sorted through a container of copper coins. That was one of the nicest memories I have of Jim. We sat for three hours, talking and laughing; I told him about myself; he told me about himself. The money we counted came to about £35 and he insisted I keep it and spend it on Amy.
On Friday afternoon, after the cleaning had been done, I sat on the floor in Jim's old bedroom and emptied the coins onto the floor. Jim and I counted them together. We still have much to sort through but that simple chore brought back a rare beautiful memory. I asked Jim to find me another 20p. He did. I told him about the plans I have for his bedroom and how lucky he was to have spent 82 years living where I refer to as Heaven. He always said he never noticed the amazing panoramic views or the peacefulness of the surrounding landscape. As I counted that money, I decided I would spend it on a present for Amy. A gift from Jim. He would have liked that.
On Friday night, the farmer, Amy and myself were in my bedroom. We were talking and watching television at the same time. Spending quality family time together, a rare occurrence in the days of harvest. My daughter astounds me on a daily basis, however, she once more innocently divulged a gentle tale from nowhere, her mind wandering between colouring books and Sponge Bob. "Your mum is Joyce, isn't she, dad." It was a statement, not a question. We both looked at Amy with her head down, concentrating on her latest picture. "How do you know that?" I asked. "She told me," came the reply.
As I took Amy to bed that night I wondered if Joyce had been to see me that afternoon as I cleaned the new spare room. I wondered if it was her that I had seen at the doorway rather than Jim. And I wondered if she had been sat at the kitchen table with us nearly six years ago when Jim and I counted £35 in change. I feel Jim may be grounded in this house. I also feel Joyce may be too. It is quite sad that they feel they have to reside here, even in their life of freedom, but when the time comes, I ask myself, would I want to leave this wonderful place? This is, after all, Heaven.