Treasures and memories

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.

Children,  they grow on you

Family is the best.

The other day I was watching my two young adult sons walking from the shed back towards the house after a day of work.  It was lovely to see them chatting to each other as they finished their workday on the farm.  I am sure they weren’t talking about anything much but it was a nice feeling seeing them get along.

Some families don’t get along.   I hear people saying that they don’t talk to their brother, or sister, or mother or father and it breaks my heart.   I just hope that we have brought our kids up with enough generosity and thoughtfulness and love that they will respect their siblings no matter what life sends them.  

Brothers and sisters will always be there.  Since you first enter the family nucleus they teach you patience and sharing and how to be thoughtful of other peoples feelings.  They know all your secrets.  They were the first people you shared the bathroon with, the first people you holidayed with. In my case we endured hours in the car on the weekends driving to little rural towns where we watched my Dad play cricket. Three of us in the back seat, for the most part annoying the heck out of each other. You can always connect with your siblings when reminiscing about those trips and can always bond over the idiosyncracies of your parents.

Family are a very important support.  Through good times and bad.  I think the quote “you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family” means you are lucky to get those people as your family.  I hope that my kids will choose their siblings to be their friends for the rest of their lives.

When running a farming business there can be extra pressure on relationships as the siblings grow up.  Who wants to be a farmer? who gets the farm?  Who might want to be a farmer but leaves to make their own way, because they know there can only be one person taking over the business.  I have seen this cause rifts, anxiety and sometimes siblings just drift apart. As our children get older that is foremost on my mind. I want to make sure the farming business doesn’t affect them as friends.

The inheritance of a farming business can be tricky. We are trying to keep all our four children involved; with lots of communication, discussions at the dinner table and eventually they will be at the business meetings. They know that they are part of our business whether they are here on the farm, involved with the day to day running or off pursuing their career in the ‘big city’.  All of our children know they will be involved and supported in the future, the best way we can.

I am lucky to have one brother and one sister, both whom I love and respect and actually like to spend time with socially.  Mind you it has taken a few years for me to realise that they are very important to me.  It wasn’t that we never got along, more the fact that we didn’t realise how much we liked each other and we all just click. My sister and I have many things in common, we both love Yoga to name just one interest. My brother and I both have a love of the sea, surfing and swimming. Unfortunately I live about three hours travel away from both my brother and my sister but we see each other as much as possible. I am grateful for any time we get together. I am blessed to have such a beautiful family.  It will bring me joy seeing my kids liking their siblings company as much as I like mine.

The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, lies in its loyalty to each other.” – Mario Puzo