Leaving home

A little house. Four walls. A roof. A sizeable garden.

A little home. A memory vessel. People’s lives and stories absorbed into the plasterboard, and etched into the tiles.

As we furiously sweep away all signs of life, and scrub all sign of roast dinners from the oven, I think about where those memories go. We leave a clean template for new people to leave new memories in the walls and in the oven. Who will these people be, and what will be their stories?

This little house was built for my grandma Joyce in the mid ’80s. She sat in the same chair over the years, sipping scotch, one hand on the telephone.

Grandchildren grew up around her. And later, her great grandchild sat in a clothes basket at her feet so she didn’t get covered in dog hair. Joyce taught the little girl to clap.

Tears were shed as Joyce read cards written by loved ones. Her voice quivered with emotion as she spoke to people she hadn’t spoken to for a long time. The woodman sat opposite her, in a 70s timber chair, smoking cigarettes. Friends and neighbours dropped in for a chat. All the while, her golden retriever lay beside her.

When she died, a little sunshine family spoke of buying her house. It was all settled quickly, and the night of her wake, after the people who loved Joyce gathered in her little house, the little sunshine family slept on mattresses on the floor. And there they stayed, up until a few days ago.

The little family is bigger now, and have made their own memories.

In this corner, two small children scribbled at their craft table, sticking things, and cutting things.


In this corner, oodles of books were stored and read. Toys were piled and played with.


In this kitchen, a husband cooked meals lovingly for his family, chopping garlic as fine as fine can be. Years before grandma Joyce had also lovingly lavished meals with garlic.


In this room, a family slept on mattresses. At some point, two children and a mother lay snuggled on one small futon, despite a king-sized bed, and queen-sized bed in the other room.


In this garden, children played – chasing bubbles, or making fairy gardens. A mummy planted too many trees, and her grandma did too. Now, the garden is stripped back for ease and manageability.


Thank you little house for looking after our memories all these years. In return, we will remember you.

  • What a big job for you clearing everything out. I can imagine an emotional experience too. I’m loving seeing the updates of our European adventure on Facebook xx

    • Thank you Renee! Emotional – but great. The next chapter!! x

  • Jeni

    From a long time reader who usually lurks: you touched my heart with this post. I love our life and home here in the Northern Rivers, but leaving our former home of thirty years almost ripped my heart to pieces. So many years, so many memories, including those much loved, long gone. Would those friendly ghosts ever visit me in my new home I wondered. Some do, I discovered. Safe and happy travels 🙂

    • Thank you for your lovely words Jeni. I can imagine leaving this area so permanently must have been very difficult. It’s such a magical part of the world! I hope those happy ghosts find you!