There’s something unsettling, uncomfortable and final about selling the family house, the only stable home I have known, where my late parents lived most of their lives. Having lived in eighteen different houses across three countries, one stable house has meaning – significant meaning! It’s just a house…. but the walls hold and embrace stories of my early life riding a tricycle, riding a trolley down the steepness of Glencoe Avenue and playing in the lantana bush opposite our house. I also remember walking to the corner store and primary school, playing rugby, catching the bus to the local library in Annerley, high school and university. It was always a given that this stable entity was always there even after 50 years.
The lounge room was the agora of the home and I remember huddling around the TV set, watching cricket, eating homemade biscuits, chatting, sipping tea, fixated on the television momentarily when something happened in the cricket match. The ebb and flow of the conversation was dictated by the number of cups of tea and the tension of the action in the cricket match. It’s just a house…. but I remember sitting with dad on the verandah late at night as we watched the planes beginning their descent to the airport. For some reason they appeared to turn at a tree in the nearby distance. Each plane would confirm this apparent turning.
I remember mum sitting near the back porch embracing the morning sun and warming herself particularly on a winters day chatting away punctuated with pauses of silent understanding. I also remember mum entering my small bedroom and attempting to wake me several times to begin the day. I was known for my reluctant early morning starts. Dad would give me a synopsis of news for the day before I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and had eaten my Weetbix.
Walking around the gardens for the last time, I couldn’t help noticing how mum had positioned my ubiquitous rock collection throughout the garden. It was also evident that once you parted one layer of plants there were multiple layers of plants positioned for the viewer. Once she had designed one aspect of the garden she had created another layer. It demonstrated the hands of a passionate gardener.
Sitting on the verandah one last time I couldn’t help but notice the trees and the house scape across the valley. Gazing into the umbrella tree I could see the frolicking lorikeets crawling along the branches. They reminded me of the times I sat with mum and dad in the cool of the summer evening. I always remember mum tweaking the garden, completing crosswords, reading ubiquitous magazines and always interested in what you were saying and doing.
The GPS navigator in the car still has the address in the favorites and I’m sure my hire car will intuitively navigate back to 12 Glencoe. It’s just a house – yes! But it was my home and I’ll be sad to see it go…. not because of its architecture but because of the joyful memories it holds of mum and dad – at home.