By Bennie Merritt
This house of memories, has been in the family since 1998. That house in Hampton, owned by my grandma, Maria Merritt, has nineteen years of family memories trapped inside of it. I have seventeen years of memories myself in that house. For years, I was always there; I basically lived there.
My entire family was always there; my grandma’s house was like the center of my family. We gathered for “the holidays, like Christmas holidays, when I would be cooking for the family,” as my Grandma said. We were there every holiday, had cookouts there on the regular basis, my siblings, and my cousins were there practically every weekend.
I asked my grandma what her favorite memories of the house are and she said, “my bedroom and the kitchen. The kitchen is where your Pop Pop used to cook all the time.” I remember watching my first scary movie with my grandfather in his room, it was called “Hills Have Eyes.” We called our grandfather Pop Pop, he was like the person in the family that kept everything together. He is the one who taught me how to ride a bike, right in front of the house in the street. I remember the bike clearly, it was a black bike that was supposed to be made as if it was a motorcycle, and it had flames on the side of it with big tires.
I also witnessed my first death at that house, what is considered to be the most painful thing to ever happen in my family. Christmas Eve, 2009, when my Pop Pop died. I remember my dad crying, but he was trying to hold it in to be strong for everyone else. I remember walking into my Pop Pop’s room and seeing my aunt and older cousin crying, they were crying so hard that it made me cry.
I can remember all the different designs and all the changes made to the house. I asked my grandma how many times she changed the design of her house and she said “maybe three or four times.” But not matter what changes she makes to the house, it will always remain the House of Memories.