"Come on over and take a look at what we've done inside," Mearl's son called to me as I stopped at the mailbox on my way to the grocery.
Mearl's been gone a good while now, but her family keep the yard and fields of the home place as meticulously as if she were sitting on the front porch watching or even swinging a weedeater herself.
Now they're tackling the interior with fresh paint everywhere and new flooring for the kitchen. It looks fresh and cheerful, but I can still see it as it was -- overflowing with family pictures . . . a collection of pig figurines . . . two recliners and a sofa . . . and Mearl.
"Well, what's a-gonna happen?" she'd marvel, if I hadn't been to see her recently, raising her hands as if I were a miraculous and unlooked for visitor.
What's a-gonna happen is what I wonder.
Mearl's family has put the home place on the market, but in the current economy a buyer may be slow in showing up.
It will be interesting to see who eventually moves in across the hard road from our farm. We hope they'll be right for the place.
Walking through the old barn, on my way back to my car, I thought about all the use the old place had seen -- the mules that had been stabled there below, the untold quantities of tobacco that had cured and had been graded and handed just above me -- and of the hours and days and years of work and life the old place has known.