Echoes of Childhood
Echoes of Childhood
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
Rolling grasses cut and neat fall downward to a rocky outcrop, like a wave about to break. Within the folds of sandstone, small succulents thrive in small earth-filled pockets, their plump round leaves draped in contrast to the greying stone. A driveway ascends in a smooth curve up to a carport by the house, fashioned by my Father’s hands, strong and enduring.
The house is white, made of wood with windows like eyes, surveying the distant landscape, bushlands, suburbs and then water, endless ocean. From the front porch with its filigreed railings, you can see forever, get lost in an endless sky. I remember the view; holding fast to that railing, my hands atop the white painted iron, my face against my hands. I wonder what I thought then, searching the vista, perhaps considering what that world had to offer, and a future undetermined.
The entrance is small and opens to a light-filled lounge area, the windows and shear curtains allowing the softened light to flood in, everything crystal clear and alive with colour and texture. The carpet is soft wool and plain, the lounge suit textured with golden teak armrests. Pillows are strategically placed, contrasting bright colours and enticing to rest and soak up the light, the living energy. A few framed prints adorn the walls, the wooden frames matching the teak wood, the colours vibrant with contrasting blues. A few treasured articles sit atop a rectangular coffee-table , with magazines and a TV guide. The TV sits alone in a corner, a captive lounge suit placed accordingly to view for evening’s delight.
The dining table is also teak, its grain and striations soft and subtle, shimmering from the oil finish lovingly applied. The chairs are also teak with fabric back and seat, subtle stipes in colour harmony.
My mother’s room, the kitchen, adjoins. The walls covered in orange flowers as bright as one could stand, make the room energetic. The floor in speckled vinyl of cream and gold and the ceiling white. Here there are many cupboards filled with mother’s tools, cookbooks, utensils, and every conceivable pot, pan and cooking vessel. I can hear her fevered steps, her precision timing and the flurry of well orchestrated movement to at end; delivering a sumptuous meal, hot and tasty.
The kitchen is always pristine, not a spot of food, not a grease mark, not a spec of dust resides. Mother sees to that.
The bathroom is small with just a shower, a toilet and hand basin. The wall tiles are white with occasional brown dispersed. The floor is multicoloured brown tiles, small, like a mosaic. All this was by my father’s hand; every tile, cupboard and drop of paint. It was not luxurious, but it was neat, well-made and spotlessly clean.
My room, my haven was down from the bathroom. It had only a bed, a wardrobe and a desk. The woods all matched and were gloss varnished. My bed sat in the corner, with a window next to it above the desk. A yellow cover lay over the bed, and the curtains over the window displayed a pattern of vintage cars. My drawings covered the walls in a ‘mishmash’ pattern; the subjects varying from landscapes to copies of famous paintings. Drawing was my passion and I even had a teacher from school that came to teach me on weekends. The carpet was a burnt orange shag pile and only a tennis racket and a basketball sat on it, the rest of my toys and belongings in the bottom of my wardrobe.
This was my sanctuary, my place to think, to be alone. I often lay in bed looking out the window at night, considering the stars, distance and time. The concept of infinity confounded me and more often than not, I’d burry myself under the blankets, frightened by the conundrum. Here too I lay still, listening to my parents quarrel, the growls of disdain and raised voices making me fall inward, unable to swallow the pain of discontent that loomed.
My parent’s room was large and open with double windows and soft ethereal curtains. It was not a place for me to go normally, and I kept away, accept when I was sick. I remember having chicken pox and my mother stroking my brow, all snuggled up in that bed, warmer than any other bed. I remember vomiting into a bucket, my mother holding my forehead, gentle words of encouragement soothing my ills. When I was recovering, she would give me her button box and I would spend hours looking at all the intricately made buttons. My mother made clothing and had collected these buttons for many years, keeping them in an old cigar box. When I was small, she would let me try on all her hats and I loved it; they were all so different and detailed with feathers and coloured bands, the smell of felt and tissue paper forever in my memory. They lived in their round boxes, on top of the wardrobe, and looked like a city of skyscrapers.
Outside was my domain and apart from all the flowerbeds that my father had made with bricks and cement, and all the multicoloured daisies that burst from them, there was a tree at the rear of our yard. It was a big old liquid amber tree with beautiful spiralling branches that made it a climbing treasure. I spent endless hours in that tree, fighting pirates and the like, my constant companion, ‘bitsa’ dog Suzie, waiting patiently at the bottom, looking up and wagging her tail in hope of a swift return.
Suzie was black and plump, with a forever smile on her face. She was gentle and playful and a kids closest friend. By day she enjoyed the sun and the companionship of our family. By night she slept in the laundry in a pile of rags that she had arranged just so. She lived to the age of 18 years and was always a loyal and loving companion.
When I look back, this simple house was nothing special, but it was my home with all its idiosyncrasies, and the people who lived in it. Fifty years later I can still remember every detail of it, every smell and event. Whatever happened back then, and some of it wasn’t good, I’ll always remember my home in growing up with fond memories.