Treasures from another time

On the weekend I was helping my mum and dad and uncles and aunties sell things at my Grandparents garage sale.

My Grandpa died in February this year, at 98 years of age. My Grandma died six years before, at 92 years of age. The house they built and have lived in all their life is now in the process of being sold. Every item, big or small that had a special place in their house is now out in the garage or in a box for people to go through.

It is strange, to say the least. Watching people pour over my grandparents possesions. Some of the things I have actually never seen before, other items are ingrained into my memories. It is hard to watch. It is hard not to take everything home. I see the bowls we ate our breakfast cereal out of, the cutlery set that was pure 70’s and the clock from the lounge room wall, all are amongst the many things that have never changed from when I was a young child. All the little things have a memory that goes with them.

I wasn’t emotional, it was what had to happen. I had accepted that it was not their home any more. It was a house which is empty and clean. Until I sat in the toilet looking at the back of the toilet door. It took me back. It hasn’t changed for about 40 years. It has a calendar picture taped haphazardly taped to it. A picture of a rose that my Grandma obviously admired. At that moment I could almost believe that Grandma was out in the kitchen fussing at the sink, making me a glass of cordial or a cold milk milo. I felt like I was 10 years old, I could almost hear my Grandpa coming in the back door, the screen slamming as he calls out “I’m home”. Grandpa Harry is here all is well.

My Grandparents owned a pear orchard in the Adelaide Hills and their house was on the property, literally surrounded by pear trees. My family and I lived on the property. We lived in the original house, only 800 metres away from my Grandparents. After school I could walk from our house down the track which wandered along the side of the orchard to Grandmas. There Grandma would feed us biscuits, cordial and whatever fruit she had growing in her garden, fresh strawberries, plumbs, cherries and of course pears and apples. For me it was an idillic childhood. Freedom in a rural setting. Mum knew if I wasn’t at home or the packing shed I was at Grandma’s place.

As I drive up the winding roads through the hills to my Grandparents house and property there are giant green gum trees lining the roads. Every time I drive up there I feel like I am coming home, back to my childhood. I soak in the sights of the hilly green lush countryside with creeks full of blackberry bushes. My childhood home is always colder than the plains and I always forget to bring enough warm clothes when I come back. When I get there and get out of the car I am putting on extra jumpers, rugging myself up for a “normal” spring day in the hills. It is then that I remember that I never did like the cold that much. Fortunately it is the complete opposite of where I now live with my handsome farmer husband.

While we held the garage sale I stayed in my Grandparents house for the last time. I spent the two nights laying in the tiny single bed in the spare room (still the original bed head) remembering moments lost in time, the everyday things, more feelings than memories. Remembering all the little things they did for me that were forgotten over time. I know how fortunate we were to have our grandparents close and involved in our lives. As I looked at all of their belongings in the car shed I kept having connections to the many wonderful childhood memories. It was such a blessing that as a child I always felt safe and loved at my Grandparents and we never went hungry. Grandma always had chocolate in her pantry and cream biscuits in a biscuit tin, juice or cordial in the fridge and milo or strawberry quick. We were very spoilt. Even when my dad and his brothers dropped in to see their mum they would head straight into the pantry for a treat.

So, another era has passed. All we have now is memories to hold onto. Memories tucked into my heart. Memories of my kind, gentle, loving Grandma and of my Grandpa; larger than life and always busy in the orchard. They will always be there when I smell the crisp cold mornings and they go hand in hand with the sight of the giant gum trees, the creeks and the hills dotted with pear trees. I am so grateful.

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