It’s been an odd time of late. Those who have read about my father’s passing and the cancer that took him will know the way the road has twisted and turned but things have reached an end in some areas.
The house has sold.
The house. The one we all moved into when we moved to Weston from Bristol in 1970 when I was a wee little 3 year old. My three sisters, Mum and Dad all moved into a three bedroom house, mid terrace and backing onto a railway line. The railway was part of our lives already. Dad worked for them all his life, following his own father and uncle into the business. Dad rose through the ranks quickly but everything in our home spoke of British Rail. We had a love of Steam Railways too, but took it for granted that all families did. Like having a garden, growing your own fruit and veg and coming home o a roaring fire when the frost had been nipping at your nose on the way back from school, we always assumed that was the norm for all our friends and anyone else.
As we grew and the bills grew with us, Mum and dad had to find more ways to increase the income so Dad took on a second job, driving coaches on weekends and in the evenings, Mum moved us kids into the attic as a bedroom and rented out our rooms as a bed and breakfast business. It made for a fun childhood. We didn’t have much, as all good stories start, but we had our holidays and we had a lot of love.
Talking to Mum last night, we worked out that although we as a family had lived there for 15 years, I had actually lived there longer. When I moved out, Mum and Dad bought a bungalow and turned the house into flats.
A year later, my new wife and I moved in to the ground floor flat. We were there until we moved into our first house,with two sons and a future. Needless to say, it will always hold memories for me, despite having now not lived there longer than I did, if you follow.
Well, before Dad died, he and Mum had decided to sell the property, which was still flats, as an additional pension boost. Sadly, Dad passed away before the sale could happen. After his funeral, sometime after, a buyer came along for the property. The banks decided to drag things out with needless complications as the property had been bought when Mum didn’t have a steady income and was therefore entirely in Dad’s name but the house sold.
That’s a big enough thing for me as it is but there is the twist. I cycled past that house to get to every job I’ve had since leaving home. I must have passed it at least twice each working day and , as it is on the route to friends houses, town and the seafront, train station and sports club, I probably still pass it at least every day, usually twice or more. In the past it has changed very slightly, sometimes Mum would be outside and waving as I hurtled by, other times it stood alone, a forlorn ‘For Sale’ sign waving instead.
Last week the sign came down. I suddenly realised, this was the end. The house was now someone else’s home. Any waving would be from strangers, to other strangers. My connection to a big old brick and stone building, an emotional bond longer than any other except my family, was finally and irrevocably severed.
It felt strangely sad, almost an overwhelming rush of mixed emotions that both scared and saddened me at once.
Yesterday when I came past, the garden had been changed, some building had begun and materials were stood on the concrete outside the front, the same concrete I had scraped knees on, parked bikes in and stood leaning against the wall watching my parents talking to neighbours across.
Things will never be the same but that’s life and that is progress. The world changes, mine just changed forever.