I’ve been so excited as this story-worth-telling has been unfolding in our family.
The micro version is that my sister bought a house, her first house.
The mini version is that my sister bought our late Grandfather’s house.
But this story deserves at least a midweek movie, maybe even a 2 part mini-series.
The story begins when in the early 1970s, our paternal Grandfather Ivan Wakefield, buys a house in Woombye. At that time, his first wife and my Dad’s Mum Dorothy Jean, had already died. Leaving Ivan the sole parent for their 5 children Beverley, Glenys, Graham, Janette and Marlene, a crew by then in their teens and 20s.
Then Ivan married Thelma, and she and her 3 children joined the family.
As we all should do, Ivan made a new Will to accommodate his new circumstances, as a husband and parent in a blended family. This Will said that in the event of his death, he gave his house to his children, but that Thelma had the right to live there for the rest of her life. Within just months of making that Will, sadly, Ivan died.
It was 1973, and Thelma had the right to live in the home until her death.
I hope that my words aren’t misunderstood. Thelma was his wife, and Ivan had provided for her, while looking after his children, in his Will. In circumstances that I’m sure he never really thought would come to pass.
I am very conscious that there are many views of this story. Ivan’s. Thelma’s and her children. My Dad and his siblings, just to name a few. I am telling this story from the only view I can. Mine.
When Thelma died, in November 2012, my Dad and his siblings were suddenly dealing with the administration of their father’s estate. 39 years after his death. Almost immediately there was talk of selling the house, as there was no benefit to the 5 siblings, living from Victoria to the Sunshine Coast, to keep the house as joint owners.
At that same time, my sister Suzannah, her husband Rob, and their daughter Presley, had been living with my Mum and Dad for a little while in a serious effort to save for their own home.
At first it seemed crazy that they might look at this old house, an hour or more’s drive from where they were. But it was at least worth having a look at, right?
And look they did. As I had, every time I had driven from my home to my local shops.
I met Suzie and Dad at the house one day, to check it out with them. This is what we saw inside.
Lots and lots of green walls. And carpet so disturbing, it was almost enough to trigger a physical action. To run. Far far away. But, beyond the green, look at the amazing detail from an another era.
And, inside that house, were glimpses of my Dad’s past. Including this cupboard.
With Dad’s name there presumably to make sure no one else tried to use his cupboard. There was also a simple but heartfelt homage to The King. Elvis Presley. With a spelling error (Presly), which made Suzie and I laugh, and say “Yep, Dad wrote that”.
Anyway, small talk about maybe looking at the house, turned to excitement and suddenly there was serious family talk about valuations and purchase prices and settlements.
At the same time, this house that had been all about the past was transforming into a piece of our family future.
To the great credit of Dad and his siblings, this story, which could have been the trigger for a bit of Jerry Springer styled family love, was handled with respect and dignity by everyone.
Suddenly, Rob and Suzie were buying a house. BUYING A HOUSE!!! So much excitement.
So much work. So much fun!
In one of the early visits, there was talk of what might have been under the lino and the carpet. Um, hello gorgeous floorboards!! Then the work of really uncovering them began. And as Rob and his Mum are showing us, it was hard work!
Once they could see the floorboards, then they needed to be prepared for sanding. Punching every nail and filling every hole. There was a bit to do. And without power, we really did keep working by torchlight!
And then the professionals could come in and weave their magic.
Once the floors were underway, it was time to look up. And say goodbye to the many shades of green and pink, and give the house a fresh undercoat. A full paint will be a little while away, but a neutral base has completely transformed the house.
And look. Just like magic, it’s a home. The home for my sister and her family. They have kept touches of the past, including this fantastic kitchen cabinet. I just love it!
It’s also a house that invites you to be outside. The children definitely enjoy playing in the backyard, and I just love drinking in the wonderful mountain views. Today, Suzie was planting some strawberries. And there was much talk of veggie patches, fruit trees and chickens. Aaaahhhhh.
And here they are. Rob and Suzie outside their home. Looking with hope and love into their future, even as their lives have been thrown upside down by a completely and utterly unexpected cancer diagnosis for Rob this week.
This also allows our Dad (and his siblings) to hold onto something tangible from their Dad, who they lost so very long ago.
And so, as I have been sitting here with Back to the Future on my teev, I have had such fun sharing our own Past to Future piece of family magic.