Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Home

I have just got in from the garden. I’ve been picking strawberries in my nightie and dressing gown and wellington boots. It’s good to be home.

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It’s good to be home. There is no comfort in my mother’s house any more. Aristotle asked - when you are eating an apple, when does it cease to be an apple?  Is it after the first bite? Or the second? Is it when you get down to the core?

We have stripped the house of everything that was uniquely my mother and father – except for the cloth thing with pockets that hangs at the bottom of the stairs and is stuffed full of knitted gloves and scarves and a rolled up, yellow kagoule.

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When Kath and I wanted to sit down, to read the paper, or to eat our dinner, we sat in the sunny porch on Kath’s garden chairs, not in the cheerless house. Oh, there’s an old tapestry cushion made by my mother still in the porch, and a piece of faded floral linen (so archetypical of her taste) on one of the garden chairs.

It’s all but finished, now. We took down the ancient airing rack from the kitchen ceiling for Kath’s daughter. She will have the cutlery, too. Every one of the eleven grandchildren has taken something, which is a wonderful testament not just to their upbringing of re-using old things, but more because they have such happy memories of staying at Gran and Grandpa’s house, and they want a little bit of them somewhere in their own homes. Someone has the milking stool, someone the sewing machine, someone will have the fire irons.

How lucky I was to share the task with my cheerful, positive, hard-working, big sister Kath. And how lucky I was to be able to drive down the M1 and arrive at Zoe’s house in Sheffield where part of the future of the family –  my grandson, Tate – was having his sixth birthday. He is dinosaur crazy, and knows the names of them all, every last syllable. He even knows what it means when a fossil is labelled the Cretaceous period. He wants to be a palaeontologist when he grows up – “Actually,” he said, “I am a palaeontologist now.”

This is him on the right. (He asked his little brother, Gil, to help him blow out the candles.)

Tate's sixth birthday

Here’s to the future (she said, trying to buck herself up.)

2 comments:

Marilyn said...

Hi! Yesterday it was five years since my Mum died and I miss her so much. I miss both my parents so much. When Dad died last year we had to clear out the house my family had lived in since it was built, in 1930. I cried the whole time but it was very cathartic. However, once the house was cleared, strangely that's all it became. A house. Not a home. I still go past there sometimes - it's home to another family now and my parents would be pleased to know that. I was distressed at first at the thought of losing the house but now I realise that it's not the place that's important, it's the people. And the memories. Like your family, we all have something of my parents to keep but most important of all, we will always have the memories.

Sue Hepworth said...

Thanks, Marilyn. When a house has ben in a family for a long time, it does seem hard to let it go, but I am sure you are right.