Not so much looking down as across..

Monday, July 8, 2013

Home, sweet home!



Today we did the final clear out of the family home. I turned on the alarm and closed the door behind me for the last time. I said good bye to our neighbors in Landscape Park and thanked them for being such a support to my mother in her later years.


Such was the innocence of the fifties; my mother recalls they drove across town to Churchtown on a Sunday afternoon looking to buy a house. They turned a corner and saw a new house with a ‘for sale’ sign, so they looked at it and put down a deposit that very afternoon.

So much for a forensic examination of the schools and bus routes.


The young couples who bought in Churchtown in the early fifties are now slowly dying off and being replaced by newer families who will probably get a refurbishment of the house done before moving in. We of the middle generation bought our second hand houses and made changes over a period of four decades, living with dust and builders as we did.


I did not expect the morning to be so emotionally charged. I looked at the simple bedroom and kitchen fittings which were hand made by my father. I admired the garden so still and private and tranquil.

In the fifties the left hand side of the garden was dedicated to fruit and vegetables. Potatoes, carrots, cabbages, apple trees (eaters and cookers), raspberries and strawberries, blackcurrants and gooseberries, rhubarb and lettuce, in no particular order.


I was but 18 months old when the Murray family arrived from Portumna, Co Galway. My earliest memory was of getting my foot stuck in a builder’s pipe in the garden. I cannot have been much more than two.


Fridays were my favorite days when I would approach the kitchen door (in those days we never entered the house through the front door) at lunchtime and thank God we were Catholics because Fridays meant chips and fried eggs to meet the requirements of abstinence.


I have vivid memories of my father sitting in the back garden in his deck chair while my mother scurried round the garden with a trowel. In those days mum could not abide being still for a single moment. Now in her 94th year she spends much time dozing and feeling no guilt.


My sister Margaret discovered copybooks in the attic. I found my geography notes from 1969, my father’s notes from UCD where he studied Social Science at night in 1957, Margaret’s nursing notes, and notes from my time in the Legion of Christ in Salamanca and Rome in 1974/5/6 and a spiritual diary I had not read since I finished the last entry in September 1976. Such was the emotional and spiritual carnage of leaving the Legion of Christ it took me 37 years to have the courage to read what I wrote then.


The sun shone brightly as I locked up the house. I smiled to myself, I was right! The estate agent had not believed me when I said the garden was south facing and now the midday sun was blazing through the window of the empty kitchen.


My neighbors were genuine in their affection for my mother who had spent 60 years in the house, firstly as a young mother and wife, then as a young active widow, then as an aging bridge player and finally as proud defiant independent old lady who stayed until health called time on her Churchtown adventure.


I reflected on the coincidences that life throws up. Today, the 8th of July, is the birthday of my sister Catherine/Kate who died six years ago and who would have been 55 today. She arrived home with mum and dad to Landscape Park in late 1958 from the orphanage to a house that became her happy home. Happy Birthday Kate. xxx

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