Sunday, January 02, 2011

There are some things you can’t turn off

I’ve been lying in bed fretting about my mother’s house, which we sold in August. It’s been empty since then. My brother in Wensleydale rang last night to wish me happy new year, and he told me that one of my mother’s neighbours had heard rushing water and another had a key, and they went in to turn the water off, and found burst pipes in the bathroom, and extensive damage. I put down the phone and feIt sad.

You might think it has nothing to so with me any more, but that’s not how these things work. An elderly friend died in September and his brother has been worrying about the empty house (now sold) and fretting about whether the new owners had turned off the water and drained the system.

These properties are not in our care any more, but we can’t turn off our concern for them. My 80 year old friend was brought up in what became his brother’s house. And my mother’s house was the centre of family happiness for 45 years. Yes, yes, I know. Houses are houses. They don’t love. They don’t care. They don’t suffer. But when they have been such a stable part of your life for so many years, you can’t turn off your concern for them as easily as exchanging contracts. You want people to treasure them, the way you have.

(photo courtesy of Peter Sharman)

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