Corridors with Life.

I’m at Granny Max’s house. It’s one of those old Australian country houses with an enclosed verandah and jarrah wooden floorboards. It has beautiful old rooms separated by big thick stone walls, rooms which have become the home of family events. There’s a dining room (Christmas and big family gatherings), a formal lounge (barely used) and another lounge with a fireplace (it’s where you get banished to watch any television that Gramps doesn’t want to watch). You know how some houses have an automatic feeling of home? That’s how this house feels. When I think of home. This is it. It has corridors that can tell stories.

Throughout my twenties I intermittently returned here, firstly with friends from school and then work. When I did a stint of working in the country, I lived here. Taxis dropped me off here. I finished sneaky ciggies in the backyard before walking inside. Years later when I was back living in the city G and I drove here for lunch, he fell in love with the house and life my parents had living here immediately. My mother evidently muttered something to my Dad after we left about thinking G might just be the one. Two weeks later, G rang Dad and asked  if he could marry his daughter. Our wedding reception was here, within an hour a keg of beer and a case of champagne had been drunk – the party finished at 4am.

Good times.

The little travelers have had stints in between international moves of living at Grannys. This house has been littered with porta-cots, swings have been put together, bikes are kept in the shed. There is a play area on the back verandah and a dolls house that is the focal point of each trip. The little travelers love it here as much as I do, for their memories are childhood memories, memories of play, of running through corridors, of bath times and snuggles with Gramps and Granny. They know exactly where Gramps will be sitting when we arrive, they know where the chocolate biscuits are hidden and how to coax Granny into letting them use the computer.

I cannot speak about the fact that my parents feel their days in this beautiful old house are numbered. I wince when words like “downsize” and “up-keep” are mentioned. For a house that is a home remains just that, your home; so how could it possibly be someone else’s?  I remain in denial my parents cannot maintain 200 roses and an acre of grass to mow. I refuse to see that their knees ache and their arthritis stabs them with constant reminders of its existence. For to accept that things are changing, is to accept that they will no longer stay the same.

This is home, and nothing will change it.

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Comments

  1. There is no place like home – the thought of my mum downsizing is also something I remain in denial about – of course 1 person needs 4 bedrooms – especially when we visit 😉 S x

  2. am going through similar with my mum but she’s quite keen to embrace her new adventure, perhaps because she’s a widow again she wants to move on…..house looks gorgeous!!

  3. This post resonates.

    It’s not just the house, it’s the memories, the familiarity with everything in and out and around it.

    Last year I said goodbye to my childhood home as I saw that it might be my last chance. Luckily though my mum still owns it so when I go home to NZ tomorrow I’ll be able to enjoy it one more time.

  4. Claire K says

    Our family had lived in three houses before I moved away to University. I still remember the day that M&D rung me to say ‘come collect your stuff’ as they were moving on, again. Since then they’ve lived in about 7 different houses, and each time I’ve visited it doesn’t feel like visiting home at all. Not only were they in different houses, they were in a different country – they moved to Australia from NZ when I was at uni.

    I always envied friends who went home to the house they grew up in, and slept in their childhood bedroom, just for the memories and the feelings of the place. I had to be content with driving past the old houses and remembering what they were like – although I have been tempted to knock on the door and say “I used to live here, could I come in for a look?” But I think that might be a bit creepy for the new owners!!!

    Now of course our kids will never have that chance either, being moved all around the world. Enjoy your parents house while you can!

  5. WE just sold our mom’s apartment. It was not the family home on the farm, which was sold 15 years ago but it is still another chapter of her life closed. She now lives in one room in a retirement home. We have tried to make it as comfortable as possible with pictures of family and special things but it still isn’t the same. It saddens me.

  6. You’re right; nothing will change it. It will always be the site of many good memories. No matter who lives in it in the future. I still remember my Grandma’s home and it was sold many, many years ago.

  7. Even with all the moving overseas we did as kids, I loved that we had a home to go back to. When i was in my 20’s and my parents went overseas again & this time i was creating a life of my own here in Aus. So i got to rent out my childhood intermittant home (although i do believe next to no rent was actually paid). Mum & dad still live there, and it is my 18 yo son who moves in for months at a time while they still traipse off overseas. They too have been talking of downsizing, too much lawn and hill for dads arthritis. My son actually asked me if there was a way he could buy it, as he couldn’t imagine not having their home to go to. How sweet.

    Claire, give it a try sometime. Even though it may seem a bit weird to ask if you can have a look around, you’d be surprised what people may say. The worst is ‘no’ , the best is ‘sure’. I took my kids on vacation to USA. I couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity to show them one of my most memorable Teenage-years homes. I wanted to take a photo of the house, but felt I needed permission. The lady was a bit wary of us at first, but when I explained who I was she asked if I’d like to go around the back to show the kids the old pool. Unfortunately we didn’t get to go inside, but I get that that might have been weird. Now my kids can visualize better some of the stories I share.

  8. Even with all the moving overseas we did as kids, I loved that we had a home to go back to. When i was in my 20’s and my parents went overseas again & this time i was creating a life of my own here in Aus. So i got to rent out my childhood intermittant home (although i do believe next to no rent was actually paid). Mum & dad still live there, and it is my 18 yo son who moves in for months at a time while they still traipse off overseas. They too have been talking of downsizing, too much lawn and hill for dads arthritis. My son actually asked me if there was a way he could buy it, as he couldn’t imagine not having their home to go to. How sweet.

    Claire, give it a try sometime. Even though it may seem a bit weird to ask if you can have a look around, you’d be surprised what people may say. The worst is ‘no’ , the best is ‘sure’. I took my kids on vacation to USA. I couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity to show them one of my most memorable Teenage-years homes. I wanted to take a photo of the house, but felt I needed permission. The lady was a bit wary of us at first, but when I explained who I was she asked if I’d like to go around the back to show the kids the old pool. Unfortunately we didn’t get to go inside, but I get that that might have been weird. Now my kids can visualize better some of the stories I share.

  9. It is a beautiful home, and I hope your parents can manage it for a while longer. They will know when it is time to move on. Till then enjoy, and as boomerang jane says you can always stalk it later on!

  10. You must get them a gardener and a cleaner. They can not downsize from such a place. Ever!

    Those kinds of homes are too special to lose.

  11. My grandparent’s had that kind of house…full of memories – the eary morning shuffle of my Grandad’s slippers down the hall as he popped the kettle on to make my Gran a tea, the smell of toast and the sound of the ABC radio news fanfare….not to mention the good bickies in the tin on top of the fridge! Helping my Gran organise the sale of their property after my Grandad passed away and she moved into a hostel was hard!

  12. Ahhh, my parents made the big ‘downsize’ this year. Having grown up in their beautiful home in the English countryside, and spent the last 15 years using it as a base between our moves it had been ‘proper home’ for myself, my husband and our kids. It was really hard………my daughters viewed the house as their base, the place from which they come and to which they would go when visiting the UK. We all shed tears……. BUT, it has been the right thing. My parents are still fit enough and of sound (enough!) mind to have made all the decisions themselves, neither my sisters or I had to become involved in any way other than moral support and sounding boards. It was a huge move with a lot of ‘stuff’ redistributed, but it’s done. My parents are now living in a very much smaller, brand new house. Our anxiety prior to our recent visit to them was considerable! But the house is lovely, nothing like the old ‘home’ and never again will there be 20 of us staying for Christmas, but my parents are happy and all the important bits of ‘home’ are there – the right pieces of furniture and pictures, but most importantly happy parents who feel liberated from a large garden and a house requiring endless maintenance – they’ve even joined a gym! So, I empathise with everyone in a similar situation but feel absolutely sure that happy, relaxed parents who have made their own choice are preferable to the thought of them rattling around in a gently crumbling family home, no matter how sentimental 🙂

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