Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Here's to you Mrs Springer

We have been renovating this suburban roomy four-bedroom house for conversion into office space (hence my lack of blogging). The house was built in 1955 and is on a rectangular quarter-acre block. It is surrounded by a towering jacaranda tree in whose breast sits a crepe myrtle, shading the sunny backyard. Inside the house has 10 foot ceilings, decorative cornices, original stackable wooden window frames and, now that the smelly carpet has long gone, loads of character.

On Monday, as I was painting the scratched and dented back door frame I contemplated how many children had passed through this door, how many times cricket bats, washing baskets and soccer boots had hit into it and left their mark. Brush stroke after brush stroke (try and say that out loud, I dare you) my thoughts were immersed in an image of a mother standing at the back verandah calling out to her children to come inside for their baths and dinner. Looking up to refresh my paint brush I saw a shadow standing at the front door (which is directly visible from the back door and about 15 metres away). The shadow was of a person hunched over their walking stick, the late afternoon light illuminating their outline. I could not help but walk toward the shadow. As I got nearer I realised it was an elderly lady. She introduced herself as Mrs Springer.

After an old neighbour had informed Mrs Springer that 'her house' looked like it was going to be demolished, she realised she had to come and have one last look at the place that was home to her for 50 years. Her husband, who built it, passed away 16 years ago and her six children grew up here until they left home.

If only I could express to you her absolute delight when she realised that we were not knocking it down but indeed fixing what was broken and keeping as much of its original features as possible. She told me why the windows were situated as they were, how many times they had extended the house and where her family had sat for dinner, where her reading nook was and where quiet evenings in front of the television were spent. This was achingly nostalgic.

I immediately thought of my family and how quickly these days are passing, rushing to get out of the house in time for school and activities, glancing at the clock, planning today, tomorrow and days and weeks ahead. Yet, how often do I stop and think that this day will never come again. My children, as they are today, me, as I am, my husband as he is now, all will eventually be forgotten, wiped away forever. And there is not a damn thing I can do to slow life down. One day all that we have built will be demolished, and not just the bricks and mortar.

But thoughts have to turn to the positive as the inevitable is just that.

What I can do is to continue to live, to plan, to prepare but also to remember to absorb as much of whatever situation I am in and to realise that what I have is not forever, but for now. I must accept that.
I invited Mrs Springer to come to the house, her house, any time she wished.
Please note that Mrs Springer is a modified version of her name to protect her privacy.


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