Savour the memories for soon that’s all that will be left
THERE are some things I remember with absolute clarity like the unsealed dirt road that sent dust clouds billowing through the house and the earth closet toilet in its sentry box at the bottom of the yard.
Then there were those special occasions for which Dad would kill a chook for dinner, beheading it with a short-handled tomahawk, and gutting and plucking it in a galvanised iron bucket underneath the house.
Dad died 11 years ago, leaving Mum to live in the family home alone. Active and alert though she may be at 91, the risk of a fall or worse eventually became too great and she recently moved into aged care.
Now the house, the one in which Mum has lived for the past 63 years, is being sold.
I found myself alone there last week, standing in the doorway of the bedroom that for years I shared with my brother, and thinking how small it now seemed.
I walked along the short hallway and into what was my parents' bedroom, the one into which we kids would pile on a Saturday morning, jumping on the double bed and unknowingly destroying any chance our hard-working father had of a sleep in.
In between the two bedrooms was our tiny bathroom, and against the far wall, the flushing toilet, the arrival of which in the early sixties was a cause of much celebration.
No more navigating our way with a torch to the bottom of the yard on wintry nights to the outhouse. Luxury!
Off the hallway was the dining room where, once a month, my father and his friends would play poker, betting in pennies and drinking beer. I could hear their voices from my bed, and in the morning the house reeked of cigarette smoke.
The dining room led to the lounge room, a room dominated by Mum's rosewood piano. It was the room in which visitors were entertained, and in which our first television set with its oval screen and handsome timber cabinet was proudly installed.
At the other end of the house was the kitchen with its green and cream gas Kooka stove, complete with kookaburra emblem on the oven door. It was on this stove that Mum cooked countless meals, and it produced the best apple pies I have ever eaten.
Dad made pink and white coconut ice for our school fetes on that stove, and if I close my eyes, I can still imagine licking strands of coconut from my lips.
It was a bitterly cold house in winter, and in those months Dad would trim the wick of our small kerosene heater and I'd huddle as close as possible to its meagre flame and listen to my favourite radio serials - Hop Harrigan and Jason and the Argonauts - on our cracked bakelite valve radio as the westerly winds beat at the windows.
In the laundry downstairs you can still see the pipe that fed gas to the copper in which Mum boiled the family laundry. When Dad bought Mum her first washing machine, his mother disapproved. She thought her son was spoiling his wife.
The aviary that Dad built for the budgerigars he once bred and in which I once locked my sister is gone, and Dad's tools now lie rusting on his work bench.
We've taken away some of the furniture, including the oversized recliner chair in which Dad spent much of his later years, its armrests worn smooth by his touch. The chair is gone but Dad's ghost lingers.
There will be some tears shed when it sells, for its walls embrace a thousand memories of what seems now to have been a carefree, innocent youth spent in a time and place long gone, and never to be seen again.