My Mum is selling her house. She’s upping sticks and moving on. The house is too big for her and as she is on her own and the gardens and paddock are too much for her to deal with. She wants something newer, something that doesn’t have a million things that need repairing. She wants to move closer to my brother and I. She wants to be in a suburb that has reliable public transport.
We all moved into that house 33 years ago. It’s seen so many changes and upheavals. When we moved in we only had neighbours on one side. Now there’s neighbours on every side and no free blocks anywhere on the street. My best friend lived two doors down. We would walk to each other’s homes. We could call out to each other across the paddocks and hear what the other was shouting. The bitumen on the road outside our house has a smiley face made out of stones we pushed into the soft tar when it was a scorching Summer day one year – probably 25 years ago now.
I had numerous pets in that house – dogs, cats, chickens, geese, rabbits, mice, guinea pigs, turkeys and ducks. I found a baby bat once, lots of lizards and more than our fair share os snakes. We had horses in the paddock and back yard and one time, we housed our Aunt’s donkey as well. I raised two wild ducklings to adulthood. I taught a baby swallow to fly. I reared an orphaned magpie and nursed an injured parrot. We had a kangaroo and found a scorpion. My best friend and I went tadpoling right outside my house, in the water that ran through the front drain/ditch when the heavy winter rains came.
I wrote countless journals in that house. I dreamt about the boy I had a crush on. I covered my walls in posters and taped songs off the radio with my little cassette player. I got my first period, wore my first bra and did homework there. It was there when I started high-school and it saw me through college. We had barbecues and pool parties and Christmas lunches with the family . We had two pools (first, fibreglass one and then, years later swapped it for a concrete one) and added on a granny flat to accommodate my elderly Grandmother who was emigrating from England.
That house saw sorrow and joy. It saw me through several job changes. It witnessed my parent’s disintegrating marriage and my Mother’s subsequent blossoming into a strong single woman. It saw the concrete pool become a garden. It welcomed my new boyfriend and watched him become my husband as I moved out to start a new life in a new house.
The house was nearly lost when my Father’s business went down. A bush fire threatened it one year but passed by without harming its surrounds. The garage was flooded several times.
But although the house has lots of memories for us all, we are not too sad to say Goodbye to it. I want my Mum to be happy and safe and to feel secure and content. I want her to have a house that isn’t falling down around her ears. I want her to have a house that is decorated the way she wants it. I want her to have a house that requires little maintenance and a garden that will bring her joy and pride. I hope there is such a place for her.
Mum’s Garden Spring 2012