THE LAST WORD
With Neil Haverson
A ll it takes are two old fruit trees, a pear and an apple, to kick-start the memories. They were here when we moved into our house 35 years ago. Like us, they were young with many years ahead of them.
The house was a two-bed detached chalet. Not a huge garden but plenty to keep us busy.
With the enthusiasm of a young married couple we set about decorating, digging and furnishing.
Two children arrived; more space was needed. With help from the bank of Mum and Dad two bedrooms became four and we extended our small kitchen.
Life moved on. The two fruit trees matured. As they blossomed so did our children. Under the swaying branches came the sandpit, the paddling pool and, as the years rolled on, bikes of increasing sizes.
They were joined by their noisy but loveable friends and finally their wonderful partners.
We didn’t get much fruit from those trees in the early days - but they had their uses. They had been planted perfectly to act as goalposts, or in summer the pear tree was ideal for cricket stumps.
Even now, as I wander down the garden I hear the shrieks as another goal was scored. Or the cry of anguish as a penalty was missed. “Okay,” I’d say. “Take it again.” Well, that’s what you do as a parent.
The point is, we don’t just have a house, we have a home. But the Government is suggesting it will offer us an incentive to move and make way for a family. So are we being selfish, rattling around in a house bigger than we need? Or do the emotional ties trump everything? As we’ve got older we do feel more pressure to move.
But this really is our castle. It’s seen us through the good times. Arriving home with new-borns, the children’s birthday parties and sitting proudly in the lounge watching our small daughter practicing the steps for her annual dance show. Even drilling holes in the wall for electric cables to satisfy the needs of a budding young electronics wizard.
At Christmas the tree always stood – stands – in the same corner. Two small humans “helped” Mrs H with the decorations and stashing presents under it. A large sack was slung over the back of the armchair. Amazingly, come Christmas morning it was bulging with presents. We still put it there even though now it’s only for show.
Over the years we’ve taken loads of photos. We look at them and say: “Do you remember that three-piece suite? Blimey, did we really have that colour in the kitchen?”
Even with just the two of us, we’ve managed to fill almost every available space; much of it with stuff we just can’t throw it away – so many memories.
Then there were the not so good times. The old homestead provided comfort and stability when life took a sad turn; from broken teenage romances to bereavements.
We have super neighbours, we look out for each other’s houses when we’re away.
So how can we leave such a special place heaving with memories, for what would probably be a two-bed bungalow in a strange neighbourhood?
Then we have the practical discussion. A big house is costly to heat, it requires a lot of maintenance, and then there’s the upkeep of the garden.
Mrs H points out: “One day there’ll probably be just one of us. How’s whoever is left going to manage all this?”
But, yet again, we put off making a decision. Like the fruit trees, our roots go deep.
Not Wembley, but plenty of goals have been scored in Neil’s garden!