Really old wallpaper. It stops me in my tracks every time. A sobering reminder of my own mortality. Here’s what happens: I’m a Realtor showing a client a really old house. Somewhere, usually tucked in the back of a closet or stairwell I find the original wallpaper. It’s often peeking through the peeling layers of subsequent coverups or it’s in such an obscure place that future homeowners never bothered to cover it up.
Wallpaper Trivia: Wallpaper dates back to hundreds of years BC when Chinese artists would hand paint wall coverings to adorn the milieu of the rich. The heyday of wallpaper was the mid-1800’s when steam-powered printing presses allowed wall-sized art to be available to the average consumer. YAY! It came to the Everyman and they loved it! It was not unusual in the 1800s for every inch of interior wall and ceiling to be covered by wallpaper as an extravagant salute to access to excess.
Fast forward to 2021, it’s not unusual for that wallpaper to still be hanging around somewhere. While my clients wander through the house I stop and stare at the filigreed print refugee from the 19th century. I think about who picked it? How did she pick it? (Forgive my sexism but I’m going to assume that most wallpaper was picked by a ‘she’ in 1891.) How many rolls of wallpaper did she go through to end up with this? What did she love about this particular pattern? What matched it? Did her husband like it?
But mostly I think about my own mortality.
This wallpaper spoke to a woman now dead. It made her happy and ‘feathered her nest.” She likely thought, like we all do, that the choice of that wallpaper was an important one and it (and she) would live forever. It did. Or might. She didn’t. Decades later I’m looking at her handiwork and thinking about this anonymous woman. I am reminded that one day the choices I make will be evaluated by someone who thinks that the prime of their life is eternal. It isn’t. I’m not.
It makes me want to order my life accordingly. Seize the Day. Do the important things. Finish strong. Leave a legacy that won’t be stripped because I made frivolous choices in my last laps.
This blog is written by Kathy Chiero. Kathy is the Team Lead for The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus Realtors. Thinking of Buying or Selling? Find us www.OurOhioHome.com