She snuggles in close when we’re on the couch. Something sweet comes on TV… she puts her arm around me and leans on my shoulder.
We laugh hysterically at her Dad’s antics. We set each other off just by looking at each other: hers laughs are loud, addictive cackles that explode from her, wild and free; mine are silent laughs where my face contorts, as I hug my sides, gasping for breath.
We glance at each other as we lose control. So different, and so we laugh and laugh.
When she sits on my lap, she sits as close as she can. I nuzzle into her soft neck, notice her red cheeks, and kiss her precious head. She pulls me in closer.
I tuck her in at night. As I always have.
“You’re the best Mum.”
“And you’re the best daughter.”
Then she delays bedtime. Stories, search and find books, life’s greatest questions suddenly abound.
I kiss her goodnight again. She kisses me endlessly… it adds to the game.
I am stern, but grateful.
She tosses, she turns. Eventually her breath turns even.
“I am so glad covid is not on our side of town… let it be contained up there in the north,” I said today as Hubbie and I drove across town, towards…
We had a couple of jobs to do which were pre-planned, so they were kinda hard to get out of amidst current covid craziness. We did our bits and pieces, kept our masks on, sanitised relentlessly, and for lunch went to a place we knew very well…
Northies! Or for those non-locals, Northland Shopping Centre.
Now you can call it ‘Northies,’ or you can be like everyone else and call it Northlands. Everyone I know EVER calls it Northlands, even though I believe in the history of the shopping centre it has never had the s attached to the end.
Just another Australian-ism I guess.
But, it was sweet, it was quiet… we walked the centre…
And I was reminded that almost 21 years ago we were walking the same centre, holding hands for the first time as boyfriend and girlfriend.
Now that fact in itself either shows our age, or tells you that we got together young… a bit of both I guess.
It was a lovely couple of hours to while away the day, and who knows, might be the last outing for a while…?
I like to go back in time to reminisce, but standing by the side of someone whose been there for so long, while I do it…
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.
We finally got back to one of our fave family places, where we dine, and play.
Southland. The places in question? TGI Fridays and Totally Games.
I had this delicious cocktail with my dinner, because of course that is the ultimate way to start a holiday break now isn’t it?
And then we went on to the most anticipated part of the evening (according to baby girl) where we played a crap load of games at Totally Games.
You know what was the best? Even better than baby girl squealing at each game we played, or getting the crappy little presents for all the money we poured into them?
It was Hubbie letting her win the Mario driving game.
I found it so weird that during the game she got to the lead, because well frankly, Hubbie used to live and breathe these kinds of games growing up, and still has a strong knack for them. As she screamed with delight when she crossed the video finishing line, I looked at Hubbie who gave me a wink.
Awww. And that’s a really simply way, to make everyone happy. 😍😍🥰🥰
Did you know Queen has a Christmas song? Actually, two that I know of. The one I’m referring to, the same title as my blog post, well I discovered it a few months ago.
But upon finding it to play, I struggled to get through it without tears in my eyes, as the lyrics hit me hard, having gone through some issues at the time.
This morning, I put it on repeat, several times.
“Oh, my friends, it’s been a long hard year
But now it’s Christmas
Yes it’s Christmas
Thank God it’s Christmas.”
Those were my sentiments exactly, and I went into Christmas at my parents house, shared with my sister and her family, feeling utterly grateful.
Snapshots of Christmas 2020.
You might notice a plate of lemons in there. Well you see, lemons are the right fruit to refer to with what I’m about to share, having played an important part of a moment I had today.
Not only was I grateful to be amongst family after a year like no other, where hardship and difficulty seemed to arrive at every opportunity, but it was a bittersweet Christmas in that it would be the last at my childhood home before my parents moved house.
It was a Christmas, like so many we’d had there before… full of love, happiness, laughter, and great memories. But every now and then, it hit me – CRAP, this was our last one there.
I was cutting up lemons for our evening prawn feast, when it struck me again.
Last Christmas here.
And suddenly, it was bittersweet. Much like the lemons. On their own they were hard to take, your face screwed up when you bit into it, they were so sour…
But in accompaniment, with something else, like prawns… with a martini… or with honey… somehow it tasted a lot better.
It was great, even desirable.
Much like this last Christmas.
It wasn’t the last, but it would be the last there.
I could take it though. I could take it, because I still took with me all the memories of being there, celebrating Christmas after Christmas with my family and friends, all throughout the years.
Most importantly, I was taking the most important thing with me.
As if on cue, INXS’s ‘Don’t Change’ came on the radio, and I had to smile.
If only there were no change. Things would be so easy, with everything staying the same, static, and with no room to move.
But that’s the point of life you see. To grow. To evolve.
There MUST be change.
So I took the lemons to the table, and we enjoyed them in the best prawn feast ever.