mums sunrise

My mum has decided to move into the nearby town, closer to my youngest sister, closer to amenities. She had commited herself to a winter in the old house to see if she could make it. She spent two, but it’s a lot of house and a lot of work for one person.

So I’ve been helping out, running down on weekends to clean out the garage, fix things that need fixing, break things that need breaking. My biggest project was cleaning out the last repository of dad’s memory. The garage that he built from a torn down house across the road. When he built it I made sure there was a room for me in the upstairs. I blocked all the places light could sneak in and made window blinds from garbage bags. It was my darkroom and there I first learned to develop film and print. But it had been abandoned by me years ago, and had become a parking lot for boxes of things that were really garbage but hadn’t faced that reality yet.

Last weekend was the last time I would see the old house. After I finished cleaning out the garage I walked the logging roads I used to explore as a child. They were there, but changed. Other logging roads had cropped up and aged since my excursions years ago. It was the same and different, an alternate reality. Losing that didn’t really affect me. It was like forgetting a dream when you wake up.

The house, well, both parents smoked and I don’t. I grew up in the house but can’t spend a lot of time in it, I get squinty-eyed and raspy. No great loss there in my subconscious.

What struck me was the phone number. For over 30 years the same seven digits were my connection to home, to my parents, then to just my mum. Driving home I realised in another week those numbers, burned into my brain like the menu on an old bank-machine, wouldn’t work any more. There was a brief sense of panic, looming loss. Suddenly it came home to me. There is no going back.