Today was the settlement date for the sale of our mother’s house. My elder sister and her family did a wonderful job of cleaning it out and preparing it for sale, and I am very grateful to them all for this. I gather that this week, there were a few last minute visits to the house, taking some cuttings from the lemon tree and the rose bush. It makes me happy to think that these might continue growing in the gardens of my niece or my sister.
My parents built the house when they retired from the farm. It was a small home perfect for retirement, with an open plan living area which never felt cramped, and a nice private garden with a view of the mountains, though to my mother’s distress over the years the trees and houses on the horizon blocked out most of this view. My mother and father both worked in the garden, and when my father left the house the final time on the way to the hospice, he was wheeled through the garden to the ambulance, so at least he got to say good-bye. My mother was always pottering around in the garden, pulling weeds, or watering, though in her last few months in the house it was harder for her.
I seem to make it a habit of not seeing my family’s houses at the very last. My parents moved out of the old farmhouse when I was in Thailand as a teenager, having built a new house right next door. I returned home to a new house, a house that was never my home. I was back in Thailand ten years later, when they retired and sold the farm. When I returned to New Zealand, they were already ensconced in their new, and last home in Timaru.
My broken ankle made it impossible for me to visit the house one last time, but that’s okay. Any emotional connection with it was with the people who inhabited it. And they’ve already gone, but will always be with us.