author atherton drenth

Atherton Drenth

27 April 2020

An old house with new walls that fulfilled a dream

Stories can be metaphors for issues we are having to deal with in life, don’t you find? During this very definitive period of seclusion we are being given a rich opportunity to evaluate our lives.

I grew up in an old house with old furniture and tired, faded wallpaper covering all the walls. My father had decorated our house long before he married my mother, who was his third wife, and he thought how it looked was the cat’s pajama’s. Whenever my mother broached the subject of redecorating he would always say, “Everything was just fine the way it was.” That was the extent of their conversation. My mother, eventually despairing of how tired and old our house looked, learned to look the other way. Until one day she couldn’t take it anymore.

It started slowly enough. The erstwhile attempts at discussions or negotiations with father had long stopped. We would come home from school to find little things had changed around the house. Furniture rearranged, new curtains, a carpet or new bedspreads adorning our beds. It seemed like every week something new had changed.

One exceedingly early Saturday morning my sister and I were pulled out of bed and commandeered to help her do the unthinkable. We painted over all the wallpaper. The dreary, drab beige and gold paper in the living room and hallways now gleamed in a shade of paint called “cloud white.” The whole house seemed to stand up a little taller.

This painting, by Virginia Conn, is one of my personal favourites.

A short time later we came home from school to find my mother, who was an extremely talented artist, had spent the day hanging all of her favourite framed pieces of art on the walls. Our house suddenly had the look and feel of an art gallery. There were huge, vibrant, floral watercolours on rice paper, richly coloured landscapes in various mediums such as watercolour, oil and acrylics, with the occasional charcoal sketch of nude models discreetly but tastefully and strategically placed for viewing. All available wall space displayed her art. As you walked through the house you wanted to pause at each painting to take in the essence and tune into the energy. Every piece seemed to reach out and talk to you. Wherever you sat there was a painting or sketch to catch your eye and leave you to ponder. It was magical. The house felt warmer, more peaceful. Father said nothing.

But it was the day a furniture truck pulled into our driveway that it finally dawned on me that my mother had changed, and she was no longer the person I thought I knew her to be. We woke up that morning to the sound of a large truck rumbling into the driveway. Scrambling out of bed my sister and I ran downstairs in our pajamas to see what all the fuss was about. As we ran out the front door we came across our father standing out on the veranda watching with this look of puzzled silence as new furniture was carried in and all of his beloved old, faded, furniture from the living room was carted out.  

After the truck left my father wearily walked into the living room to look at the new furniture. “What have you done, Virginia?” was all he said, as he cast his eyes forlornly around the room at all the new furniture.

My mother stepped to one side and proudly showed him the new easy chair she had purchased just for him placed in his favourite corner of the room. We all stood there, in silence, holding our breath my sister, my mother and I as he walked over to the new chair that had been placed in his most, cherished spot. We watched with curiosity as he ran his hands over the soft beige velvet fabric of this new lounge chair. He paused briefly then slowly sat down in the chair. He leaned back, put his feet up on the ottoman and this wide, goofy looking grin spread across his face. He loved the new chair! He looked over at mother and said, “We should have done this years ago.” Mother rolled her eyes and we all laughed.

What had changed my mother? She decided to go back to school at the ripe old age of 36 as she had never been allowed to finish high school. In her day, girls were told that they did not need an education they needed to work on the farm, get married and have children. After my sister and I were born she realized she needed to do something more with her life. Getting a formal art education had always been her dream, so she stopped looking for permission and went for it. Seven years later she graduated from university with a degree in fine arts which then led to getting her degree at teacher’s college to become an art teacher. She had found her voice, followed her dreams and had her own money. Our house was her house too and she decided she wanted to live in a place of art, that was bright and interesting. She stopped looking the other way and created what she wanted to make herself happy. She realized that her needs and desires were just as important as my father’s.

I asked my mother once why she was so determined to make my sister and I so independent. She looked at me for a long time before she answered. She said, “Because I didn’t want you to become a victim to what society dictates. You are your own person. You decide how you want to live.”

My mother taught me that each of us matter. It is only when you believe that everyone else is more important that you lose touch with yourself. You can kill your own dreams by always being what other people want you to be.

During this time of seclusion what do you desire? How do you choose to live?

Atherton Drenth is a clairvoyant medical intuitive and the author of Intuitive Dance. Building, Protecting & Clearing Your Energy, (Llewellyn Worldwide) and Following Body Wisdom. Atherton also appears in the documentary, Voyage to Betterment as one of 12 experts along with other internationally renowned physicians, researchers, and pioneers in the fields of consciousness research and spirituality.