The day had finally arrived, all the planning, all the worries were all going to be over. The packing process had started a few weeks before; maybe we should have started that job months ago.
There was never going to be enough helpers. The children’s rooms had been the hardest, bags for charity, boxes for storage and everyday necessities to keep with us. All were supposed to have been labelled but on checking a bag-marked charity yesterday we found the dogs lead and our passports. That prompted us to empty every bag and box and this was time that could have been used more efficiently.
It was whilst emptying and checking a large egg box I came across an old photograph. I remembered the frame from when I was a child. It had pride of place on the mantle piece. My mum was proud she had given my sister a wedding fit for royalty; her and dad had worked hard to save the money to pay for the reception at the local golf club. There had been arguments for weeks before due to the stress and tension, mum looked beautiful in her two-piece suit she had bought on our shopping trip to London.She had paid more for that ‘mother of the bride outfit’ than she and dad had paid for their first car.
Her hat could have come straight from Ascot. She insisted buttercup yellow was her colour how we laughed at that yellow feather that arched over her head. Looking at this picture now it looked like a halo.
I felt a sadness looking into that photograph, how innocent we all were back then. It seemed strange looking into my dads eyes, I could imagine them twinkling as the camera flashed. How I missed mum and dad. It would be strange leaving this house, the only home I had ever known.
I had been born here. All my memories involved this house. Even happy times seem now tinged with sadness and regret. No more memories to be made in no. 9. As the rooms were emptied one by one I wandered through them, imagining the noises and smells that I had taken for granted for many years. My old bedroom from when I was small now had my daughters name on the door.
The secret hiding place in the cupboard seemed much smaller than I remember. How ever did I fit inside there? I remember hiding from my dad I can hear him calling me for tea.Every time he pretended he did not know where to look and always feigned shock on opening the cupboard door to find me crouched in the darkness. Getting used to life without mum and dad had been hard but I managed because of this house. I always felt close to them. Dad had planted the apple trees that stood in the garden from seed. They were now too big and blocked a lot of light from the house but I could not cut them down, they were dads.
When my sister announced she was emigrating I never believed I would miss her.She was twelve years older than me and we had never been close, looking down at her wedding photograph again I smile at the frilly bridesmaid dress I had been bribed into wearing. I do miss her though I want my children to know her I want to be part of a family again. Deciding to sell this house has been the hardest decision ever made but it will be worth it. We are moving to a new home and a new country the house we are renting at first is new.
No memories inside, we will have to make our own. We will have to plant apple seeds to grow our own trees for our children to remember us by.It will be a luxury to live in a warm climate. How many winters have we complained about the old clanging pipes that seem to play like an out of tune orchestra every morning.
Even on warm days this house seems cold and damp. My sister tells me our new home is modern and light, with our own swimming pool. I smile to myself for years I have dreaded getting out of the bath because of the draught that blows through the rotten window frame, I give a shiver and imagine being so warm I can swim in my own back garden.I make my way downstairs feeling sad to leave but also excited about our new life ahead. I hear the creak on the third stair for the last time I look around and now all our belongings have gone the house no longer seems to be ours. I hug the photograph frame close to me I cannot wait to see the look on mum and dads faces when I hand them this picture.
It is hard to believe it has been ten years since they went to live with my sister. They left this house without ever looking back and now I am going to do the same. I pull the knocker and hear the latch click as I close the door for the last time.