I am currently living in my thirteenth home. I find it hard to imagine what it would have been like to live in the same house all my childhood, then move to another and live in that in my adulthood, but I know that is some peoples’ experience. I can’t easily answer “Where is your home town?” or “Where do you call home?”
If a person’s home town is where they were born then mine is a little town on a tiny island in Bass Strait but I was two when I left there so I don’t remember it at all. There is something about being born on a little island that is special though and I am always interested to hear news of King Island.
I don’t think it is the length of time that you live in a place that makes it home, I haven’t lived in any house longer than seven years and lived in one only eight months but they were both home. It is what goes on in my house that makes it home. It is the conversations, celebrations, the work, the play, the busyness and the quiet. It is the people who make it home.
When I visited my parents’ current home in Australia two years ago it felt like home to me even though I have never lived there. They were there and I was surrounded by things from my childhood, memories of home. I could show my children the biscuit tin(which they would call a cookie tin) from which I was allowed to take two biscuits when I arrived home from school, only one biscuit with icing, one without. I also recognised glasses in the cupboard which I thought very beautiful and elegant as a child because they had gold and frosted patterns on them. They were home to me too, reminders of special occasions when we drank special drinks out of them. I looked at pictures on the walls and could remember them hanging on other walls in our other homes, some of them pictures of our other home towns.
We have in our home the dining table that my grandparents bought when they were married. It is a beautiful table and I love having it, not only because it is a nice piece of furniture but because my grandparents used this table, my dad and his brother grew up eating meals at this table. As a child visiting my grandparents home I sat at the table with the other grandchildren and family for Christmas dinner. It has been part of home for 75 years.
Home is where I spend the large majority of my time. I am a home maker, a home schooler, a stay at home mum. I work at home, teach at home, play at home, keep the home and cherish this home. I am reminded though, that unless the Lord builds the house those that build it labour in vain. This home is both the Lord’s gracious gift to me and His task for me.
Your tally of thirteen homes prompted me to add up the homes in which I have lived and I was surprised to learn that it is one less than your total.
My list commenced at Maroo Street, my home for the first 22 years of my life, in the home my parents built when they were married and in which they lived for over sixty years. That home was also the home of “the table” for all those years as four generations of family gathered over the period. Many was the occasions that the ends were stretched apart to add the extra leaf extensions to accommodate the expanded family.
Now, as your family eat together, a fifth generation join you at the table. I find it hard to estimate the number of family members who have sat at some time at the table and, of course, there have been countless numbers of family guests who have gathered around it. It has been a quiet observer of so many wonderful events and listener to thousands of conversations – joyful and sad, profound and light-hearted. I trust it will be the hub of such events and conversations for many years to come.
Whilst you have surpassed me in the number of dwellings in which you haved lived, you have some way to reach your mother’s tally of nineteen homes, fifteen of which were church residences we called ‘parsonages’. Eight parsonages were with her parents and seven were the ones that you have known in Tasmania, Canberra and Sydney.
What a variety those homes they have been, from tiny weatherboard and fibro cottages with the most primitive of plunbing and facilities to a grand, old, cold, two storey bluestone structure with huge rooms and high ceilings, to some more recent dwellings with some of the comforts of more contemporary living. They have been so different, yet they have have had a common thread running through them all. That thread has been, in part, those items of furniture and furnishings and the memorabilia that have accompanied us on the journey from state to state and place. Yet more important than all those artefacts that we have taken with us are the events that have taken place between the walls of those homes and the rich memories which they have created.
Each of those dwellings has been home in rich and wonderful ways, but two will always have a special place – Maroo Street, the original home of “the table” and Valley Heights. Here, in our little cottage in the Blue Mountains, we live in the first home that your mother and I have really called our own. Around us we have some of the memorabilia of our former dwelling places, but above all a home in which we can pause and recall the memories of former homes and years.
I have an idea. If you moved closer to me….that could be ANOTHER house, moving your tally ever closer to that of your mother’s. Of course, if you moved VERY CLOSE to me, I would tell you that 14 is such a lovely number, and that there is no need to ever move again!
I miss you!
I have many happy memories of Maroo St. I loved the high ceilings with plaster patterns on them, the tiles around the fireplace/stove in the kitchen, the huge back yard, which was the scene of many cricket matches and the way it was always cool inside. I remember the different toys which would come out when we were there and the fact that there was always Schweppes Black Label lemonade in the fridge. When we lived in Melbourne I would sometimes drive past and show my children where their great grandparents had lived.
And A(Big)I would love to live close to you as I miss you too. But there is another option, there is plenty here you haven’t seen yet…