The Family Home: it is time to say goodbye

I have spent this morning with my parents at our family home helping them to pack it up as they move to what has been described by them as their “retirement” house.

As I drove home, I reflected on the house my parents have called home for the last 38 years, indeed it is the only house they have ever owned, and the house that I grew up in. Bizarrely, for an object such as a house, I think I am going to miss the brick house in Bundamba that John and Irene built.

It was a warm and happy house to grow up in with parents who were loving but strict and who worked hard to make life easier for my sister and I. As my brain works through my memories of the house I am struck by random images and moments such as:

* a skinny kid with a bad flat top spending hours with a tennis ball and a cricket bat playing test matches against the back brick wall in summer and kicking goals between the two big trees in the back yard in winter;
* that same kid lurching over the laundry tubs blood streaming from mouth after being hit in the head with a baseball bat by his sister;
* my sister’s wedding day and the military precision with which my mother organised the female contingent who were all staying at the house;
* hearing the phone ring in the middle of the night and overhearing my dad by informed that my hero (my grandad Alan) had died and seeing my dad cry in my presence for the first time in my life to that point (at the age of 19); and
* the day a little black dog dog we called Benson arrived and the day my Dad found him in the last throws of life in the back yard over a decade later.

It was a happy place as I said but it was also a place where I felt most comfortable. Twice, in the depths of depression and bereft of hope, it was the place I returned to to heal, to reflect, to cry and to talk.

It is funny but on reflection this house, that my parents have loved and, in recent times, pampered, has almost been as much a part of our lives as another family member. And, now that the sale of the house is in the shadows of completion, we are in mourning, in a sense because part of our history is no more.

I am sure that I will love my parents new place when it is all set up and we are invited to it. The same rules about sitting on the “upstairs” / “good” lounge (strictly verboten) and touching Dad’s mower (also strictly verboten) will apply. That said, when I walk into it for the first time I am sure I will be struck by its differences. That will happen, in part, because when I walk in I will not see the one lasting part of me that was in the old house: the mark on the hard wood floor from the day I dropped a bottle of green cordial in the lounge room and it smashed. Needless to say mother earned her nickname of the “Red Dragon” that day.

So with the self indulgent trip down memory lane above consigned to print, there is nothing else to say but goodbye to the home of my childhood (I will not be going back there before the sale settles) and look forward to making more memories in my parents new house. With that in mind: can someone hand me a bottle of green cordial?

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