Smells like home


My grandmother passed away in late May.

At the time of her death my parents (ever the entrepreneurs) were building my grandparents a new home on the back of their site, and preparing to sell off the old house. Her death was a great shock to everyone; in particular my mother, who had been wanting to give her mother a new house for a long time.

Nana/Yvonne was very proud. She never wanted to put anyone out or cause any trouble. Each stage of the house was delayed while she complained to my mother that she didn’t want to pick the best appliances or take more money than was necessary. She also fed the builders: holding construction up for hours while they ate her scones. That was Nana.


Last Sunday I went over and saw the house for the first time. Mum proudly lead me through the framing, explaining what each room was going to become and where Dig (my grandfather) would sleep, eat, watch television. The new wood heater was still boxed in the living room and the wiring was ready to be connected. I pictured all the new appliances in their places and thought sadly of how my Nana would never get her new kitchen: she had only been waiting 50 years.

Stepping outside I walked around the perimeter, noticing that the neighbours still had the same trampoline as always and that their tire was still hanging from the back tree by their woodshed. The old washing line was uprooted and sitting in the creek and a large pile of dirt and debris needed to be cleared before there was any sort of garden.
There were still steps to be built to the back door and a deck to go in. Dig’s greenhouse was empty, waiting for him to get back into his passion for gardening. I imagined that his veggie garden would be replanted in the same area.

I stopped for a minute and took a deep breath: it smelled the same. It was amazing how that feeling hit me. A mix of compost and fresh grass: the distinct scent that makes me think of that house. That garden. Nana.

I was suddenly overcome with emotion. I knew it would take me a few minutes to compose myself, so I walked to the old house and used the bathroom. The cat pawed at the door while I washed my hands and headed back outside. It’s just the right time of year for daisies to pop up on the lawn: I used to spend many hours making chains.

I headed back up the drive, the gravel crunching underneath my sneakers and met my mother still looking out the windows from the kitchen’s frames. Pointing out the window across the fence, I said, “I remember swinging from that tire.”

She smiled and turned to me. “I remember climbing the tree.”

My sister is overdue with her 3rd child: the new baby’s name will be Violet Evie (from Yvonne). I think she’d be pleased.

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