A bulldozer can come in and knock a house down within a few hours reducing it to a pile of bricks and rubble. Over the span of 4 days every tree can be knocked flat to the ground, cut up and carted away, the bricks, windows, timber framing, the bath tub and the kitchen sink all pushed into a pile, then removed from the property and all you have left is some soil. Every moment and memory contained within that house is now just etched in your mind and there is no physical presence left of these memories.
My grandma lived in her house for over 40 years and her house was a huge part of my life from the time I was born. My dad always comments it was the first house he looked at and he knew it was the one. It was not a big house nor a particularly pretty house but it was always neat and tidy with a good front verandah and she had a lovely garden with lots of sun out the back. She loved gardening and she loved pottering around tidying up and making things neat. She cooked dinner for me and my father every Monday night in her kitchen with the original oven that had to be serviced several times a year but she liked it and it worked and if it still works then you don’t replace it until it needs replacing. Everything was well prepared and always served exactly the same way. Entrée, main and dessert with a glass of Fruity Lexia straight out of the cask. The good dinner plates and the ivory-handled cutlery, the crystal glasses were always bought out because that is what her mother did. As a child I did cartwheels on her front lawn, climbed the trees out the back and found all her bric-a-brac interesting to play with. She would often babysit me when my parents went out for an evening and it was a real treat to sleep in her bed. An even bigger treat was that she had a television in her bedroom. After I stayed at her house I was allowed to watch cartoons in bed and she would bring in a stable table with Just Right cereal, fresh orange juice and some toast. I loved those mornings and felt like a princess. She wasn’t a cuddly grandma and never said I love you very often but she still made you feel special and I knew that she enjoyed having me there as much as I enjoyed being there.
She was a real worker. She grew up in the country around 40 minutes from the nearest town. She was the youngest of 8 children and grew up in the harsh climate of central New South Wales. She was born in 1914, was home schooled but by the age of 12 was shipped off to boarding school in Sydney. She never stopped, always busy doing something and fiercely independent. She never complained. She just got on with it as that is what you did. And it wasn’t until her late 70’s that she started slowing down after a bout of pneumonia. She died in 2014 at the ripe age of 100 and a 1/2. She was fascinated by technology. She was fascinated with mobile phones and was always asking questions about computers and how they worked. For someone who was born before electricity she was a forward thinker who was amazed at the progression of the world and what it meant for my generation.
Eventually my parents divorced and my father and I moved into her house and lived there for 3 years. She still cooked for us every night and when I was lazy and didn’t want to catch the bus to school she would drive me at the last minute. When I eventually got my licence she let me take her car to school if she didn’t have anything on.
Last week the house got knocked down. My dad sold the house last year which in itself was sad. I thought he would be there for a while but I always thought that if it was sold I would be able to drive past and see the familiar trees, the street, the front verandah. I can still remember the excitement when she got the roller door on the garage converted to an automatic door and said it was “just like magic”.
To see her place, our place reduced to bricks and rubble and how quickly it happened reminded me of how fragile and brief life is. One minute there is a house filled with so many memories and happy moments and the next it is gone, carted off to the tip and something else is put in its place. Our lives are very similar, except hopefully I am not carted to the tip, but the moments we have here are so brief and it can be taken away from us at any stage. It is a short moment in time that we are here and the world keeps going on without us. Something that you think will be there forever can disappear within a few short days or hours.
So many places you go to are so full of memories of people present and past. Filled with countless stories, emotions and experiences. Every single one of them a different meaning. We don’t take any of that with us, it is what we have in our memories that keeps us going and to remind us of who we are and where we have come from.It made me think about all the things that I stress about in my life and what I worry about. Some of that is important. I worry about my kids and that won’t change but the little daily things we stress about that are so unnecessary. The worries we put ourselves through to keep living in a certain existence or lifestyle. At the end of the day is it all worth it? The point is we don’t know. We are never going to get the answers so aren’t we better to try living our lives than just to sit and worry about all the what if’s? And at the end of the day in my case, we have each other for now and that is all that matters. None of us know how long we have and we should embrace change and not be afraid of it. We should try new things and experience something different if we can. There is a huge world out there and it is there to be experienced and explored.
Did you ever read The Magic Faraway Tree?
It’s a bit like if Joe, Bessie and Fannie didn’t jump up into the new land it only stayed for a certain time and it would move on. Sometimes you have to bunker down and get on with it but there is points in your life when it feels right to change and you need to go with it and step outside the small box that we live in.
It is time to realise that life can be lived more than one way, or you can change how you live as often as you like. There aren’t any rules, although we keep making them. As long as I keep the consistency there for my children through my love and guidance then that doesn’t matter where we are on the globe, and the experiences that we create for them is what is creating their memories.
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