Saturday, 1 March 2014

Storm brewing over Yugildah

I took this photo late Friday afternoon as storm clouds gathered overhead. Yugildah was built in 1903 and is the only remaining example of a triple gabled Queenslander in Toowoomba. I have been told that a local guided tour of the city includes a drive up Godsall street to view this masterpiece. The grandeur of the house never really impacted any one of us in the family. It was just 'home'.

My parents move from the family home this week-end, after 54 years. Fifty-four years filled with laughter and tears, joy and sadness, triumph and tragedy.  There has been much sadness over the last two years as they came to grips with the inevitability of their leaving. There's been excitement too as they looked forward to a new, more comfortable home. And this week-end they leave in triumph, knowing that in this house they successfully raised seven children and hosted many, many more. 

So many more in fact that the one thing we lacked when I grew up was enough chairs to seat everybody. It always seemed necessary for two or three to sit on the floor. In the October before Suzanne and I married, my mother averaged sixteen people for every meal that month, and we were usually light on for breakfast. Do the maths and you will understand why evening meal time at the Chimes' was an exciting, rowdy time where you needed to be involved in three or four conversations at once if you were to hold your own.

The was an occasion where one visitor burst into tears during the evening meal. Apparently our conversation about smoking affecting your genes had been punned into a second conversations about fashion jeans. This poor unsuspecting guest had become completely confused and thought someone at the table was suggesting she should not be wearing jeans because they would stunt her growth. It took us some time to piece the tangential train of thought together; and even longer to assuage our visitor's distress.

Those days are long gone of course, but over the past two years I have spoken to many former visitors. To a person they all have fond memories of their stay, regardless of how brief. (Although there were some whom we thought would never leave!)

Investing in personal possessions was not something my parents every taught my siblings and me. Investment in emotional connections and personal relationships was considered far more important. So as they leave this week-end, there will not be a single thought given to what will become of the house after they go. The treasure-trove of memories they hold dear of the acquaintances and loved-ones that have filled the last 54 years is so large there is no room for thought of mere possessions.

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