My great-grandfather lived upstairs from us when I was young. He had sold the house and land to my parents with the caveat that he be cared for, and have his own space, until death. While he was alive, I barely ventured into his rooms, mostly because they smelled bad. Mom cleaned for him, but he was not particular about hygiene.
He died at age 96; I was 12. My parents renovated the upstairs with a vengeance, and my sisters and I now had the luxury of private bedrooms. Cheri slept in the large room, Cindy (away at college) had the small room at the top of the stairs, and I was given Grampa’s room.
Nothing remained of the old man. New paneling, carpeting, windows, and doors. In the cold, dark hours, I listened to the groaning house, the slow footsteps, and his sighs. I kept the covers over my head until dawn.