Endings and Beginnings

Endings and Beginnings

From tomorrow, our family home no longer belongs to our family

“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”

T.S. Eliot

Tomorrow is a significant “end” for me. The house that has stood, figuratively and literally at the centre of my family for over 30 years will no longer belong to us. A new family will take ownership. It is such a strange feeling; surreal even.

Sure, I haven’t actually lived in the house that whole entire time. But even when I wasn’t there…it was…there. Always. A safe harbour to return to if ever I needed it. A water lily in a pond when I needed respite. And of course, it is the single greatest physical and tangible representation of my dad and who he was. I was thirteen when we built it, and prior to that, the longest we’d ever spent in one house (in my lifetime) was maybe 3 years. Not everybody has that experience of having a single, family home for most of their life. So, I do feel very blessed.

And it was home to so many people over the years. My grandmother, friends of mine or my brother’s from overseas, backpackers passing through, exchange students, adult children of my dad’s friends, my father-in-law, …so many people had their mail sent to that address over the years. I moved out and back in myself many times (I think it would have been 5 or 6 times that I moved out only to move back in at some point down the track). We celebrated milestones: my high-school formal, my 18th, my brother’s 21st, my mother’s 40th. If the walls of that house could talk, it would have so many tales from my family to tell.

Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns under that roof. There were many trying times. The greatest act of my youthful, high-school rebellion (that my dad knew about) occurred when my best friend and I snuck out to hang out with some teenage boys next door (yes I know…nothing good was EVER going to come of that…) The anger and disappointment that my dad felt was heart breaking. The sad dissolution of my parents’ marriage. Events that at the time you can’t understand and fathom why the human spirit has to go through such heart ache, but which, after the passage of time, you can look back on and perhaps understand why the universe laid your path out that way

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I’ve been trying to almost, just observe my own reactions and experiences through this event. I know in my head and on a practical level it is absolutely the right thing to happen, but in my heart, it feels very difficult. How do you reconcile these things?

To help come to terms with this, I find myself focusing on the family who will be moving in and making it their home; creating their memories. Yes, it’s an ending for my family, but it’s a beginning for theirs. I think of the times when I’ve bought a new home and the excitement I feel as I count down the sleeps until it becomes mine, and I imagine them doing the same. Talking about the changes they’ll make, what they love most about it, who’s having which bedroom. Of course, I don’t know any of these details, but what I do know is it feels so much more peaceful for my heart to contemplate those things, rather than focus on the sun coming down on the ol’ Swann family home.

And most of all, I feel grateful. Grateful that I have had the opportunity of having a home that has been central to so much of my life, and such a beautiful home at that. I have the luxury of being able to process this event, unlike many of my fellow country-men and women who over the last few months have had to simply pack what they could and abandon their family home, leaving it at the mercy of destructive bush fires. Now THAT is a tragic ending

But my heart does go out to my dear step-mother, T. For her, this event caps off what has been an incredibly traumatic and painful year, so I can only imagine the ‘nail-in-the-coffin’ sense it must evoke for her. But dearest T…while you remember and reflect on the end of this era, try also to think about and dream about the beginning that this represents for you. And I will be there with you and for you.

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