Categorized | Lydia of Grayfields

Excerpt from Lydia of Grayfields: A Cat Who Chose to Speak

Grayfields was an appropriate name for this monolithic stone mansion that my Uncle Rowley commissioned to have built many years ago. It was four square stories of imposing solid granite and solemnly appeared as if it could withstand the forces of nature for all of eternity.  Sadly perched and brooding atop a mound, the walls were gray; the roof was gray; and the yard was gray and lacked any sign of life. The landscape beyond was also gray as it sloped down to a leaden lake below the mansion’s westerly view. The sky was its typical shade of gray which was so common for this area. And mostly, our moods were gray. The mansion, like its inhabitants and everything around it, seemed far older and gloomier that their chronological ages.

Uncle Rowley had passed away a few weeks ago.  His wife, my Aunt Sophie, was now alone and getting up in years. The couple had no children or close relatives other than me.   I promised Uncle Rowley, somewhat unwittingly, that my husband and I would move into the estate and care for Aunt Sophie.  As a couple, we had few ties of our own. We were renters, so there was no house to sell. And, we had not been blessed with children of our own. So, we agreed to come to Grayfields.  After moving into the four story mausoleum I was fearful we had taken on more than we could handle.  Uncle Rowley had been ill several years and the place was much neglected. Things were falling apart at Grayfields.

My uncle had been a prominent physician in the city for many years. He was unable to work in his medical practice in recent years. I did not clearly understand their finances, but over the years they sold the land around the house. Perhaps they needed the money; I didn’t know.   Once there were rolling green fields and lush pastureland surrounding the mansion. But now, the area was gobbled up by urban sprawl. Many people once lived in cottages on the surrounding hills, and some were tenant farmers of my Uncle Rowley. That was all gone now.  Progress had taken the land and plastered it with low level strip malls, gas stations, and urban blight. The result was traffic congestion and noise beyond the boundaries of our gated parcel, now a scant five acres of gray dirt. Below the mansion, just beyond our gate, was a thin black strip of fast-paced asphalt and across the street was a dilapidated convenience store which advertised beer and cigarettes in the window.  As our car rolled past it and up to the Grayfields’ gate, I wondered if I would ever set foot in the store which looked just as shabby as the now-tired gardens surrounding our new home.

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