I'm at Granny Max's house. It's one of those old Australian country houses with an enclosed verandah and jarrah wooden floorboards. It has beautiful old rooms that are separated by big thick stone walls, rooms that become the home of family events. There's a dining room (Christmas and big family gatherings), a formal lounge (barely used) and another lounge with a fireplace (that's where you get banished to watch any television that Gramps doesn't want to watch). You know how some houses have an automatic feeling of home? That's how this house feel. When I think of home. This is it. It has corridors that can tell stories.
Throughout my twenties I intermittently returned here, firstly with friends from school and then work. When I did a stint of working in the country, I lived here. Taxis dropped me off here. I finished sneaky ciggies in the backyard before walking inside. Years later when I was back living in the city G and I drove here for lunch, he fell in love with the house and life my parents had living here immediately. My mother evidently muttered something to my Dad after we left about thinking G might just be the one. Two weeks later, G rang Dad and asked if he could marry his daughter. Our wedding reception was here, within an hour a keg of beer and a case of champagne had been drunk - the party finished at 4am.
The little travelers have had stints in between international moves of living at Grannys. This house has been littered with porta-cots, swings have been put together, bikes are kept in the shed. There is a play area on the back verandah and a dolls house that is the focal point of each trip. The little travelers love it here as much as I do, for their memories are childhood memories, memories of play, of running through corridors, of bath times and snuggles with Gramps and Granny. They know exactly where Gramps will be sitting when we arrive, they know where the chocolate biscuits are hidden and how to coax Granny into letting them use the computer.
I cannot speak about the fact that my parents feel their days in this beautiful old house are numbered. I wince when words like "downsize" and "up-keep" are mentioned. For a house that is a home remains just that, your home; so how could it possibly be someone else's? I remain in denial my parents cannot maintain 200 roses and an acre of grass to mow. I refuse to see that their knees ache and their arthritis stabs them with constant reminders of its existence. For to accept that things are changing, is to accept that they will no longer stay the same.
This is home, and nothing will change it.