I still have a key to "Mum's house". Before the new owners take over tomorrow I could have gone there today and wandered around one last time, but it's too far and I've already walked out for the last time from my childhood home - more than once in fact. It's the place where my brother, sister and I grew up. It's a place of security and happy memories. It's the place where my father died, far too young at 55 years. It's the house my parents bought to provide a bigger place for their growing family. We saw it being built from its foundations. It's the place where I played French cricket at the bottom of the garden with my brother. It's the place where friends were welcome. In one sense I left 'home' at 18, returning in holidays during student days and then establishing my own home(s) in other places. It's the place where we 3 children regularly returned with spouses, children and eventually grandchildren.
Although I've been happy in many other homes since, there's a sense in which one particular house and garden has always represented 'home', even when I usually referred to it as "my parents' home" and then "my mother's home". My mother lived there until her 100th year. She died 6 months ago. I wrote a brief post about this in Death of a Mother. I've spent a lot of time at her home since she died while we organized the sale, sorted and emptied the house of its contents. Each time I left there were fewer things there, more difficult decisions taken and acted on, so each leaving was a stage in saying goodbye to the house and the lovely garden Mum created.
For the last weeks the place has been completely empty and now I really do have to let go. After tomorrow I will have no right to enter the property any more, nor will my brother or sister. I'm physically at home today, but in imagination I'm back in my childhood home, remembering every detail of how it was and is, who was there and who is no longer there. My sister, who lives near to it, made her last visit this morning for a final check before the new owners take over tomorrow, so I'm reassured that all is OK. She even cut back the Golden Rod that was encroaching on the drive, just as our mother regularly did at this time of year. All that is left for me to do is to put my copy of the front door key in the post, although no doubt the lock will soon be changed.
In grieving for my mother I realize that similar to a child with a 'transitional object' like a comfort blanket or teddy bear, her home is for me an adult equivalent of a transitional object. While letting go of it is not as painful as the sudden severance at the moment of her death I do feel an additional sense of loss which is stronger than I had expected. I am home. I am in a place where I feel loved and secure. And yet...it's hard to accept that from tomorrow I will never be able to "go home" again.
Image Credits: my own photos