The 1980s hit song, ‘ Our House’ by British Pop band Madness, reminds me of growing up in my home.
We lived in a working-class neighbourhood, in a house with a high-pitched roof that you could see above all the others in our street. To me, it made our house special. My Dad made sure our garden was always well kept. I also had to do my bit of the chores and mow the lawn on weekends. We had a small front garden with lush green lawns split in the middle by the pathway to the front door. It was the kind of lawn kids loved to play on. I can remember how our skin would itch all over from playing on the grass.
And we had trees. Our back yard had trees that gave shade and fruit bearing trees. Year in and year out we would harvest red and white grapes from the vines that grew on either side of the house. There was an apricot tree that housed my ‘fort’ — a square plank my Dad secured in the neck of the tree for us kids to sit on. In summer when the tree is full of fruit, the branches would hang on the ground. My mom would preserve all the fruit we couldn’t consume. We also had a fig tree, four different varieties of peach trees, yellow and a red plum trees, among others. For as long as I can remember, we had bottles of preserved fruits, jams and chutneys in every cupboard in the house. Many years later, we are still working through the last of the bottles.
My Mom was a night-shift nursing sister, which meant she could spend time during the day with us kids. My Mom loved to bake and cook. She would bake tins full of rusks and a variety of biscuits as treats for us kids, and when friends came to visit. My Mom could make legendary sandwiches. She would make a pile of delicious triple-decker sandwiches, crusts trimmed off and cut into quarters. They were always served with a glass of green or red cold drink. The kids in the neighbourhood all knew about my Mom’s epic sandwiches.
We moved to a new suburb in the mid-70s. I can remember going to view the house with my parents after they had made an offer to purchase. The front garden had a tall palm tree with a jasmine creeper that had engulfed the truck of the tree. It was springtime and the jasmine blossoms were out in full, giving off its distinctive fragrance. Whenever I smell jasmine in bloom, my mind is transported back to that time when we moved in to our new home.
When a business deal went sour, I was not able to qualify to buy a home. With my two kids and my ex-wife, we moved into our first rental apartment. Remembering how my parents had worked to make our house a home, I set about doing the same, regardless that the place was not my own. I refused to live like a visitor, or as if it was a temporary home. I spoke to the owner who said I could make it home, so long as I return it to how it was.
Within a short time, the apartment was our home.
We moved a few times within the same complex, each time upgrading slightly over the last home. And each time, we would set about making our house a home.
A little over a decade ago, I managed to buy a house of my own. It is small with a garden the size of a postage stamp, and it is home. Our house is a place where you can come to feel safe. It is a refuge to find your feet and get your bearings again. Most of all, it’s a place where love will always be waiting for you, no matter what happens.
Have an awesome Weekend!
Originally published at https://www.leapfirst.co.za on July 26, 2020.