The house I lived in for 18 years had only one previous owner, a woman who settled there post war when the flats had been new built for those returning from the fighting. She never married or had children, and eventually died there, alone.
I moved in several months after her death. Although the council had cleaned and cleared it thoroughly, I still gleaned over time, keys to her life and personality in the way the home and garden were laid out.
The house I moved into recently is similar in many respects, with its one previous owner, a woman, who died at home several months before I moved in.
The traces of this woman in my new abode are stronger for various reasons. She was relatively young when she died, with children and grandchildren, and rather than the council it was her family who cleared the building, leaving many traces of her behind after their emotional packing up of her possessions.
The organisation and presentation of the building show the influence of someone very practical. Everything is designed for comfort and smooth running (unlike my last residence which was very much indicative of the make do and mend mentality).
Outside I find crystals, stones and shells from various family outings. Digging over and exploring the land surrounding the house reveals the presence of an avid gardener who became ill and was unable to look after the grounds as she had previously done.
Yesterday I discovered two handmade teapots, rounded and rustic with a blue and green glaze that she must have created at some point.
The curtains were also made by her, a woman who seemed to love fabrics and crafts.
I find beads in cracks between the floorboards
Her favourite colour was blue; she loved the sea.
The bathroom shows signs of having being adapted to her illness in its later stages, with holes in the walls where support rails would have been. Saddest of all, in the bedroom, on the window by the bed, was attached a sliver of blue agate for her to gaze through and see the world in striated soft blue tones.
Her name was Karen.