Why a home is so much more than bricks and mor­tar

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Robin and Patricia Sil­ver

SOONER or later, it hap­pens to most of us. Whether we like it or not, there comes a time when we have to empty the con­tents of the home of an el­derly, close and dear rel­a­tive who has re­cently passed away.We’re rarely pre­pared for it and cer­tainly never trained to do it.

This may sound rather mor­bid and de­press­ing but, in many ways this of­fers the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to look back in de­tail on a loved one’s life as you sort through their pos­ses­sions and see, some­times for the first time, land­marks of their life.

Their per­sonal his­tory is of­ten ex­pressed in the least valu­able yet most re­veal­ing sou­venirs and me­men­toes. An old recipe book can bring out a flood of mem­o­ries of favourite dishes pre­pared for fam­ily gath­er­ings with rit­ual reg­u­lar­ity. Pho­tos can ex­pose the life of a loved one with cap­tured mo­ments some­times start­ing with pic­tures taken long be­fore we were even born: a grand­fa­ther’s school pho­to­graph with the whole class look­ing ter­ri­bly old-fash­ioned, a for­mal and overly posed wed­ding with bride and groom look­ing long­ingly into each other’s eyes or a smil­ing baby that could in fact be you.

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, things that are valu­able like jew­ellery, an­tiques, sil­ver­ware or paint­ings are much eas­ier to deal with. They may well have been be­queathed un­der the terms of a will or, quite com­monly, it may have been ar­ranged in ad­vance that cer­tain items will be given to par­tic­u­lar fam­ily mem­bers. Fur­ni­ture, elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances and the like can usu­ally be ab­sorbed into the homes of rel­a­tives or friends. These are of­ten most wel­comed and ap­pre­ci­ated by new­ly­weds just start­ing to es­tab­lish their own new home. It’s the less valu­able items that are the more prob­lem­atic. You may not want to keep them but you don’t want to despatch them to a house clear­ance sale or char­ity shop.

Af­ter all, it’s taken a whole life­time to amass this com­pletely unique and very per­sonal col­lec­tion and it seems dis­re­spect­ful sim­ply to pack it up and lob it out. Fill­ing a skip or con­sign­ing the whole lot to a refuse dump seems even worse.

But amongst the sad­ness and melan­choly of emp­ty­ing draw­ers and cup­boards, clear­ing out at­tics and cel­lars for the very last time, there are sur­pris­ing mo­ments of hap­pi­ness and laugh­ter.

When sou­venirs from spe­cial oc­ca­sions are re­dis­cov­ered, a thou­sand joy­ous mem­o­ries can come flood­ing back. A land­mark birthday party, a se­ries of swim­ming cer­tifi­cates, some fridge mag­nets, Guide or Scout merit badges, school re­ports, out of date pass­ports or a post­card that you your­self sent when on a mem­o­rable hol­i­day or dur­ing a gap year (and boy, are you sur­prised to see that some­one both­ered to keep it af­ter all these years).

These tiny de­tails all help us to fo­cus on the most im­por­tant as­pect of all. And that is, very sim­ply, that while a house is made up of bricks and mor­tar, fur­ni­ture, car­pets and cur­tains, a kitchen and a bath­room, a home is a place of warmth and love and car­ing which comes from the peo­ple who live there. And when they’re gone from the prop­erty, they still live on in our mem­o­ries and in those mem­o­ries and the sto­ries we tell to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, they will live for ever.

Robin and Patricia Sil­ver are own­ers of The Home, Salts Mill, Sal­taire, www.the­home­on­line. co.uk

PIC­TURE: JOHN LEWIS

TIMES RE­MEM­BERED: Love and mem­o­ries make a house a home.

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