Joshua has always loved to be at home, that is probably why lockdown suited him so well. he loves to go out on a trip and enjoys his holidays, but we never see him as happy as when he gets back home again. One of his favourite phrases used to be ‘Back Home!’ shouted with glee as we got to our gates. I am delighted about that as he spends more time here than anywhere else. Joshua has never known any other home, we moved here in 1995 so it is the only main home that he has ever known and we have no intention of moving. He has always had the same bedroom, with the same sea shell decor, although the bed and furniture have changed over the last 21 years.
I got to thinking about this as Joshua and I are going on a rail trip next week up to Scotland and I will be visiting my old neighbour, who still lives at the house next door to where we lived from me being 1 to 11, we moved away to England in 1978. It is the first home that I can remember vividly, and so it will be fun to see it again. I have seen it a couple of times since we left, but this will be the first time since Mum and Dad died so it might feel different this time. Dad was a passionate gardener even then so there might be plants growing there that he planted. I spent a lot of time in the garden as my favourite game was to dress up and drift about the garden making up stories. My first best friend lived next door and we made a gap in the fence for easier access to each other’s places. She is over from Texas with her daughter so I am looking forward to the happy reunion very much.
In 1978 our parents broke the news to us that we would be moving to England for Dad’s new job, and my sister and I were devastated as it meant leaving our home and all of our childhood friends behind. We spent that summer house hunting and finally moved into our next home, and my parents’ last home, in August, ready to begin school in September. I was fortunate as I was joining high school in the first year, so everyone was new and friendships were easy to make. I went to school with a Scottish accent but returned the same day with my current Northern accent and when Mum queried it , I replied ” You have got to fit in, Mum”. It was much harder for my big sister who started school at the O’ Level stage, when friendships were formed already. We were lucky enough to be close enough to walk to school and we were able to bring our friends back to this house after school. It was a happy home, our parents lived in the garden where they grew heaps of vegetables, and we always ate family meals together around the kitchen table – the table that I am sitting at typing now in fact.
I left this home for University in 1985 and never lived there again, although we were frequent visitors as my parents continued to live there. When Dad developed dementia, when he became less mobile, he moved into the front room as a bedroom and Mum found the garden to be her refuge and haven while she was his full time carer. Mum lived there on her own for five more years after Dad died, when she invited friends round to the house and garden and her social life was never busier during that time. She made some very good friends through church and she was always helping others by volunteering herself to help people move house and she busied herself with room bookings for church and was on various committees. It was because she was so busy and helpful, that her illness and subsequent death in 2019 came as such a shock. We all expected her to come back home, her return was being discussed the week that she died.
So then my sister and I had to deal with grieving and to sorting out her things and the house itself. It was full of memories and it always felt as though she had just popped out, that she would breeze back in through the back door at any moment. I was slow to want to go through her things but lockdown and furlough meant that we both had time to have days in the house together and individually to pack up things, to get it ready for estate agents to get involved. We sold the house 2 years ago now and have said our goodbyes. Joshua and I had a couple of overnight stays there before it went, with the cold fire lit, with me reminiscing . It was always surprising that Joshua seemed to understand that his Granny had gone, we dreaded him seeking her out at her familiar house, but he accepted that she was not there and seemed, like me, content to be in her home.
Home really is where the heart is and I feel blessed to have had three brilliant homes that suited our families perfectly. We have always been spoilt for space, with my own bedroom when I was growing up, and we have several reception rooms at home now so we can each do our own thing. Joshua has his own ‘den’ where he is watching ‘Finding Nemo’ right now. We have outside space too, which is perfect for the dogs to play in and of course we have Joshua’s pod too. I really cannot imagine ever wanting to leave this home and I too enjoy coming back to it. I often used to get the post holiday blues, but now that I am retired so I am not going back to work, I relish coming home.