So this is it. Finally closing up Mum’s house before the house clearance people come. I’m here with my brother and we’re making sure nothing personal is left. We’ve sorted through dozens of photos, my parents loved to travel and all the family gatherings for weddings, christenings, first Holy Communions, boyfriends, husbands, all documented. We’ve decided to ditch most of the landscapes and just keep the people.
More than fifty years living here means a lot of stuff to sort into rubbish, charity shop, keep. And there are many surprises, we find an old gramaphone from my grandfather’s time and the 78s to go with it. Crank it up and suddenly songs from the twenties float across the garden, an odd time warp.
We pause to go and have coffee with a next door neighbour, same age as my dad would have been, they’ve lived there since the twenties. I used to sit with his grandmother when I was at school. He lost his wife last year and thought we were all coming, so has prepared juice ‘for the children’. We laugh and tell him they’re in their twenties.
How do you leave something as familiar as your own skin? Every creaking floorboard, every light switch. I’m sleeping in the room I slept in all my childhood, I know the shape of the trees, the shadows as the sun passes from one side of the house to the other.
Morning and evening light are best in the garden, which echoes with the happy sounds of parties, lunches, generations of children racing around. A happy, welcoming place that now feels less like a home and more of a to do list.
Others will come and love this place and make their own memories. I feel I should leave a photo of us and a love letter to the house under the loose floorboard on the landing. To be found in a hundred years. This place lived and breathed and was loved.