It was about 5pm today when I realised I felt… different.
This was a novel way for me to feel on a Sunday afternoon.
I felt happy. Content and even a bit excited about the week ahead.
I am always dealing with massive Monday-itis feelings come Sunday afternoon, yes even in lockdown. It’s the start of more routine, more work, more home-schooling, and after having spent the day with Hubbie and baby girl, it just really makes me sad that we won’t all be together the next day.
So why was I happy?
Well, I think it was a bit of everything.
Father’s Day, of course. Showering Hubbie with cards and surprise gifts this morning.
Having video calls with family, which really put a smile on my dial. Seeing my Dad and Mum, and sis and bro-in-law made me feel happy and connected to them despite the distance between us in lockdown.
Then I made this new soup recipe, a chicken, vegetable and pasta soup, and it was really yum! So I was stewing over that (almost literally) ’til lunchtime.
And then I wrote up a new weekly timetable for myself, because I often find myself so busy but really scattered, because I don’t know what to do first when I have free time, and end up fluffing around. This way, knowing what day I will focus on what will give me tremendous drive and clarity as to what to do, when. It already worked, today was my clear clutter day, and I was totally killing it. 🤣
So yeah. I am happy, and I don’t have any massive reason why, they’re all little reasons…
A part of me feels like I’m not allowed to write about my uncle, because I had only spent two periods of my life with him.
But today, having learned of his passing, I feel a tremendous amount of sadness for my Mum’s family, while also realising that I am more than qualified to speak about him, because he inhabited some of the most meaningful and memorable parts of my life.
When I was 13 I travelled with my parents overseas. Being a fresh teenager, the thought of meeting family that I hadn’t met before was not exactly thrilling stuff.
And yet those 3 months ended up being the best of my life.
Our home base was at my uncle and aunty’s house, and so we would return there often for days at a time, sometimes weeks, in between our travels around Croatia and the neighbouring countries where our relatives lived.
I remember how much he and my Dad seemed to click. Both fond of drinking the hard stuff at 40%, they loved their grapes, their gardens, and their gadgets. Both natural handymen. It was never too early to ‘cheers,’ and they were often caught having a good ol’ chat.
I remember the garden, the vines above providing ample cover as good as a ceiling. I remember the swing there too, and the kittens that crawled along the roof of these vines, and how I looked up at them.
I remember the ‘bunker’ at the bottom of the house, and I remember the random spa-type apparatus that sat on top of the garage! Me and one of my cousins sat in the empty pool as it were, on a hot Summer’s day.
I remember them taking us out to ice cream in the main centre. I remember us walking the streets, and them telling us where the bombs had fallen, showing us the concrete scars they had left on the road. They showed us where their son had gone to high school and proudly pointed out the court he played basketball in.
I remember more vividly the second time I visited my uncle and aunty, because it was more recent… it was when Hubbie and I were on our honeymoon.
Although it wasn’t yesterday, the memories are far fresher. I had the opportunity to spend time with them, now as an adult, out of the wings of my parents, 12 years on. Hubbie and I sat with them. There was still the bunker, the 40% alcohol, and the cherished garden. And of course, the cats.
I think he had a soft spot for cats.
On the few days we were in town, he kindly played tourist guide, driving us around to see other family members. We saw his favourite fishing hole, and he spoke fondly of his own family, and of his memories with them.
I often found myself staring at him and being amazed at the likeness between him and his son.
But what I remember most, is the day he took us to the train station, as we set to depart from Croatia.
We waved goodbye, and I said we would see him again one day. I watched as he turned, his head bobbing down in a sign of resignation as he walked away.
But that day never came.
I think of all of this, and I send so much love out to my family tonight.
I hope they too hold their own special memories of him that they’re replaying in their minds.
It’s just another sombre reminder that we must grasp each and every day with all our might and all our love.
I was going through old family photos this evening as I searched for photos of my Dad over the years, for his official birthday today.
I don’t know about you, but I get sucked into a time warp when I start doing this. I go through one year, then another, and another… suddenly I’ll look up from what I’m doing and be like “woah. Where am I?”
Like I’ve just woken up or something.
Photos transport you. I love going through them, and I’m trying my damndest to keep all my photo albums documented and in chronological order, though I’m very behind… but still trying.
And in thinking about photos, I realised that their ability to transport you to different times, and with different people, make them invincible.
They defy time and space.
They live forever.
It immediately made me think of words. Words live forever too. Think of the words you read by a poet 200 years ago… they breathe new life when you quietly repeat them in your mind, the meaning travelling through centuries to make its way to you.
And music. I LOVE music. Think of all the songs you love, from singers and bands that have long now gone, the words and the melodies that you continue to belt out in your car, when you’re doing the dishes, or in the shower… their lyrics and the music continue to live on through you, when you press play on your device, or decide to go acapella, wherever.
Art. Art is what it is. I love art, creativity, in all its forms.
Part of the reason is, IT CAN NEVER DIE. People, words, songs, they will always be revived when they are recalled, read, played.
Of course, they are passionate expressions of creativity, and that is simply the most beautiful thing. Even photography, it captures a moment in time, something that nothing else can quite do, and helps you to recall sudden scents, sights, a dress you used to wear when you were young, or a place you used to visit, and no longer do…
Photos can do all of this, and it was this I was reminded of when passing through the many years of my Dad’s life tonight.
They remind us of all the times of our life, when our own memories fail us.
How many other wonderful things will be captured by photo, that we are yet to live?
Today was the day that we said goodbye to our family home.
The home that my parents have lived in for 40 years.
The home that my sister spent growing up as a teenager, all the way until she got married.
The home that’s the only childhood, family home I’ve ever known… that I lived in for 25 years until I got married.
Goodbye, number 14.
It was an emotionally bittersweet day. Emotional because oh God, all of the above! So many memories are in every inch, every corner, every crevice of that house.
Through the rush to get everything out of the house this morning, I tried to pause every so often, look around, take a breath, and say a personal thanks to the house that made my years growing up, the best in the world.
Here is the emotional part.
I was reflecting on my life spent there as I walked around the empty rooms, a bit taken aback by the hollowness of it all. The furniture, furnishings, and all the photos and trinkets that made it such a loved home, were all gone.
But oh, those walls. If those walls could talk.
Those walls would speak of happiness, of laughter. Of sadness and shock, family coming together, and family celebrating to make the most out of life.
And love. SO much love.
Memories hit me as I walked into rooms, turned corners. Looked this way, that. People from the past resurfaced, along with people from the present.
In the lounge room, I saw myself sitting on the floor while my parents watched footy on the TV.
In the kitchen I saw my Mum cooking up a feast, our family sitting down to eat at the small round table, perfect for us in size, so perfect, to keep us tight and close together, as always.
In the garden I saw happiness. Friends, cousins, brimming around, enjoying a drink on a hot Summer’s day, folk music from the garage wafting over and adding to the festive atmosphere of it all.
The garage, ohhhh, the garage. Where so, so, so many parties and events were had. Birthdays. Milestones. Weddings. Day after weddings! New Years. And all of the Christmases that Mum cooked up a storm, catering for over 30 people like it was an absolute breeze, even though it wasn’t.
She made it look effortless.
Those were the days. Those were the BEST days.
The park next door. Hearing the squeals of happiness from our younger cousins as they took advantage of the play proximity.
At the front door, I saw my sister being led out in her wedding dress by my parents… then I saw myself, doing the same.
The dining room showed me all of us, our big family, as we are now. The original foursome, us, being my parents, sister and I, but now with our Hubbies and our kids, filling up the table, eating heaps, drinking more, and playing music off of youtube on the mobile until the late hours of the night.
In my bedroom. The bedroom that I spent 15 years of my life sleeping, dreaming and hoping in. I had another room for the first 10 years of my life, but I claimed this one, sister’s one, after she got married and moved out.
It’s always been the better room.
I sat in my old room. Took some photos around me. And then here, I began to cry.
I remember watching Video Hits for hours on weekend mornings.
My childhood cat scratching at my window, wanting to be let in, and then me opening the window to shoo her, upset she had woken me… but when she jumped down from the window sill outside, I thought stuff it, you’ve woken me now… and so I would call her back in (she must have thought I was a crazy bipolar cat owner) and she’d snuggle up next to me as I slept a little more.
I’d open up that window, and talk to friends through it.
I talked to SO MANY people, through it.
I listened to music for hours on my bed.
I had sleepovers in that room.
I had sleepovers in that house! On the lounge room floor, covered in blankets and sleeping bags.
When Croatia played Australia in the 2006 World Cup, Hubbie-then-boyfriend and I watched it, me running around the house with a Cro flag when Croatia scored a goal, and Hubbie running around the house with an Aussie flag when they scored a goal.
I don’t remember who won that game. All I remember is the memories.
All the people who came, and went from that house. It would be in the hundreds. Friends, family, people who I grew up with, grew apart from, so many people have touched base in that house, shared a laugh, a dance, a drink, and made a memory.
Even baby girl. It was the first place that she ever visited, after her own home.
Speaking of baby girl… My waters broke in that house! And my own Mum’s waters broke in there, when she was pregnant with me!
Both sister’s Hubbie, and my Hubbie, met my parents for the first time in THAT lounge room…
News broke. Secrets shared. Heavy discussions were had. Tears shed.
People were welcomed. People were greeted.
People came in, and immediately knew that there was love. They were safe. They were in a memorable place.
And so today, the time came. We walked through the house. We took our final photos.
And we drove off, for good.
That was seriously bitter, right?
Where is the sweet?
Well, it comes with the choice. How blessed are we that this was born of my parents decision to move closer to me and sis, and not because of a bad circumstance.
How lucky are we that we get to say goodbye, together, in the best way possible… and how lucky that we still get to take ALL the memories with us?
Including most importantly, the people.
I am so looking forward to making just as many happy memories in their new abode. 🏡🏡
But my heart will always hold a very special and dear place, for number 14.
Today I found myself really happy, in a place that I never really thought much of before.
Under the house.
Under, my parents house.
That’s baby girl way back there, climbing further and further underneath.
But at the beginning, we were scaredy cats. All of us, except for Dad. Of course he wasn’t scared, he made that storage space what it is today.
Mum got the guts first. Again, of course. She went in, and was slowly looking around, pulling things out, and discovering hidden treasures…
44 year old hidden treasures. Guess what it was…
I called baby girl out, because hey, check this out! She had never been under there, and seeing as it was the last time at my parents house for her, well there was honestly NO BETTER TIME.
And then it just kinda happened.
It occurred to me, that this was part of my childhood. I remembered going underneath there with my Dad, as a kid, back when I wasn’t so freaked out by spiders and webs… and as I grew, so too did my fascination of the place go dimmer.
I mean, why would I want to go under there? In the dust, bugs threatening to drop, strings of webs stuck to my hair?
I crouched outside the door there today, deciding “I AM GOING UNDER!” I knew the smell that would hit me before I even went in, and I wanted to sit in it, one last time.
As soon as baby girl realised I was headed in, she was off like a rocket, after her Baka. I slowly followed, and once my Dad was in there, soon all four of us were on hands and knees, looking around, me shining my phone torchlight towards them so they could see where they were headed.
As they set off in different directions, I sat, looking around. Those old wine bottles. Bags of old Christmas decorations. Paint tubs. An old crib. Tents. Sleeping bags. Spirits. 100 different planks of wood.
The smell of wine barrels, dust, and something else astringent filled my nostrils.
The air was cool and comforting. Yet something musty surrounded us, the smells of yesteryear hanging low there, reminding us that they would never float away, no matter how long that door remained open.
It was the scent of memories.
That’s what it was. Memories. I may never smell that scent again, but I will never forget it.
It’s a lot nicer when you don’t expect anything, and then the opposite occurs.
Something. We were happily bound to our home for the day, Sunday, the first day of Spring (yippee!) and also, Father’s Day.
Baby girl had happily helped her Dad open up his presents after our late morning breakfast, still on a high from the night before yet feeling the lack of sleep, when I got word, that our quiet day might be different.
I had seen my Dad at my bro-in-law’s birthday the night before after all… I had seen my whole family.
But then I heard my Mum and Dad were going to my sister’s place for a quick visit, and so then we might as well pop on by…
And what started as a very non-expectant day, had us around a table talking, laughing, and then watching the rain pour down later when the clouds decided to merge overhead.
It didn’t affect the sunset though. Just as I had been longing for Winter to be over, just as quickly it came to an end… and this seems to happen every year. June, July and the start of August feel so long, then mine and baby girl’s birthday passes and it no time – BANG!
Spring. Sunshine. Sunsets like this:
And so the message really is… don’t expect anything. Things are that much sweeter when you think of not much at all…