Nothing can be a starker reminder of the phrase ‘Home is where the heart is’ than when we lose the place we feel is ‘home’ and our hearts feel broken. In recent years houses have been thought of by many as profitable units to be maximised and moved on as quickly as possible, but for past generations and the way the present economic climate is going maybe future ones too, houses were cherished, loved and kept for decades. I remember my nan’s home as though I only walked through it yesterday, though it’s twenty years since she died and it was sold. I can recall every piece of furniture, every carpet, every ornament, their position, how they looked, how they smelled. Nothing changed in all the years I visited and her home was as familiar and comforting as a favourite childhood toy. That was the way things used to be with homes, they didn’t change every year with passing trends and new season sofas.
This week made me remember all those things about my nan’s house and how happy it made me feel. A good friend of mine lost her beloved father and Mr M and I travelled over to give our support at his funeral and in the hours afterwards. Circumstances meant that Monday was to be the last night my friend would stay in her childhood home of 40yrs, the last time she would see it as it had always been. When you’ve known someone 15yrs from your twenties as in our case, you do feel like you know them well, but knowing someone from childhood and having known their parents is something very different. Our childhood, our family, our upbringing, the home we were brought up in shape us irreversibly and make us who we are, who we grow into being, who we want to be or sometimes even who we pretend to be.
That evening and the next day helping her pack items away, with all the memories, tears and smiles everything brought, reminded me that home is somewhere to be treasured. Seeing my friend in her childhood home, surrounded by all the things which had made her who she is and helping her sort and pack away her past took me back to my own past, to a time when home was where all I treasured was around me, not still packed in a box waiting for the next house as this one is only ‘temporary’, as they are now.
Home treasures don’t have to have a monetary worth, they’re value comes from being full of memories and happiness. They conjure up sunny days and cosy nights, visions of birthday parties or afternoons curled up on the sofa. A picture, an ashtray, a piece of lino or the way a stairway curls up to a bedroom. The feel of a worn timber handled tool or a well thumbed book. Even a scent, the whistle of a kettle or the gentle indentations of textured wallpaper. They remind us of times past, of loved ones and of ourselves.
We left my friend and her fiancé to say their personal and private goodbyes to a house which had clearly known much love during it’s forty years as her home. Just as there will always be a piece of my heart in my nan’s small terrace, it was clear a part of my friend’s heart would never leave No.49. It’s so hard sometimes but most of us have to leave our childhood behind and find new homes for our hearts to fill.
Mr M and I sat on Cleethropes beach front on a cold Valentine’s afternoon, eating fish and chips whilst being watched by a hoard of chip-nicking Hitchcock seagulls, and I thought about how precious life is. Thought about Chelsea, who was so poorly this time last year and whose Valentine had been made so special by all your cards. Thought about our home, the ‘temporary’ one we’ve lived in for nearly six years.
Yes, it needs everything doing to it, there’s plaster falling off the walls, subsidence and the oldest boiler known to man, but there have also been endless parties, a constant stream of friends and family get togethers, with tears and laughter, doors-open summer days and batten-down-the-hatches winter nights. We’ve been so busy creating gorgeous apartments for our tenants to live in, we’ve kind of forgotten about our home and how important it is to care for and be surrounded by the things you love.
So, once back in Manchester, I unpacked some boxes and started to take out our treasures. Mr M and I (plus a very nosey Missy cat) built up a wardrobe we bought from ILVA in 2008 and had been ‘saving’ – it’s completely transformed our bedroom from a clothes strewn mess into something which actually looks like a bedroom (despite the minging carpet and lavender walls!). I cannot believe we hadn’t done this before now. On a visit to John Lewis last night, I bought a fabulous new ‘house’ light to illuminate our hallway, it seemed so appropriate and fitting.
We’ve been reminded this week that even before it’s renovated and restored, our house is our home because it’s where our hearts are.
Whenever I switch on my lovely light or look at freshly planted snowdrops from my friend’s garden, I will be reminded of Mr George Moravesky. Thank you to another special Mr M for such an important reminder to me and my Mr M of how important home is xx