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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
Getting all philosophical about the process of life.

Submitted: May 13, 2017

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Submitted: May 13, 2017



These days, of a Tuesday on his way back from town, Henry calls on Albert, after all they have been mates for better than half a century. Henry tries to be more reliable these days because two of Albert’s tubes were pretty much blocked and the other two were nearly as bad. It was touch and go for a while, but a quadruple bypass brought him back to the land of the living.

‘I see you’ve got a sign up at your gate.’ mentioned Albert as if in passing.

‘Yeah, we’ve put the place on the market,’ replied Henry, ‘not all that keen about a real estate signs. Not even sure that we want to sell!’

‘I remember when you bought it, must be nigh on fifty years.’ It’s true.

‘Built the house 1982.’ Henry had it off pat. ‘Yeah, I bought the two blocks of land coming up fifty years ago. Remember Maggie, our lawyer?’ Albert nodded. ‘July ’67 was the change to decimal currency, but she wouldn’t use dollars! No way, she insisted on talking pounds!’

‘A great old biddy, Maggie.’ Albert was wistful. ‘You always said you were going to be carried out of there in a box.’ He added.

‘Yeah, I know, but we have to be realistic, if something happened to either one of us, it would be pain in the arse of the other.’ Henry explained. ‘Decided to make the move before we have to.’

‘Well, your kids are all overseas,’ Albert agreed, ‘so it isn’t easy for them to help out.’

‘They’ve got their lives to lead.’ Henry told him, ‘But they’re always supportive and caring. They’re not keen on us selling either, but they understand.’

‘Good. Makes you think eh, I was luck they could fix me ticker. But look what happened to Neil!’ Albert replied. A week ago their mate Neil had taken ill suddenly and died just a couple of days later. ‘And Lloyd, shit, he was nearly too late, prostate cancer!’

‘I just heard, old Bill, remember the guy I marked those trees for?’ Albert nodded. ‘He’s been diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus, his outlook isn’t too bright! Just built a flash new house too.’ It was news to Albert.

‘Makes you think!’ repeated Albert.

They strolled around Albert’s garden to admire some late-flowering rhododendrons.

‘Well now you’ve started the process, y’think it will sell quickly?’

‘Dunno really,’ replied Henry, ‘you never know if anyone is looking for a bit of land. Suppose they could supplement their income cutting and selling firewood. But I’d like it to go to some young family that could have the same good times as we’ve had!’

‘Nearly every day during summer your boys, were out on your lawn playing cricket. And you pair!’ Albert remembered.

‘Ha! It was pretty competitive, I tell you!’ Laughed Henry. ‘They played on their own a lot too!’

‘Well, you’ve got the river frontage. That must be worth something.’ Albert said. ‘And two nice river flats.’ He added.

‘Yeah, well to me the trees are an asset, but real estate agents don’t seem to give a toss about them.’ Henry said thoughtfully. ‘But we’ll see.’

‘What’ll you do if you don’t sell? Asked Albert.

‘We’re quite happy there and will just carry on as normal.’ Henry replied. ‘We’re still not in bad nick and in the meantime, we’ll just keep testing the market. Y’ never know, might still be carried out in a box!’ Albert laughed at that.

‘Well that’s good, at least you can keep calling in to see me.’ Albert said happily.

Henry had helped Albert build his bird aviary a few years ago. They used timber from Henry’s logs cut at the sawmill just before they closed it down. The housing part was just boards as they had come off the saw which reminded Albert of the inside of Henry’s house. He mentioned it now.

‘I suppose a Lockwood isn’t going suit everyone.’ Albert suggested. Which is true, the house is manufactured from pine boards, locked together, tongue and groove, so the exposed knots and the tree’s growth rings make patterns on the boards.

‘True enough,’ admitted Henry, ‘some say its like livin’ in a box, but I see all sorts of patterns in the knots and grain. Lockwoods are a sturdy type of building, tested in hurricanes and earthquakes they reckon. When the wind blows strong, they creak and groan but are stable. After a hot day, in the night you hear cracks and bangs when the heat goes out of the timber. You get used to it and get to quite like it. Company.’

‘You’ll miss the birds though.’ Albert said.

‘Sure will,’ Henry admitted, ‘there’s a lot I will miss, the river, the trees, but we’ve had a lot of good times, fond memories.’

The pair sat in Albert’s conservatory and chatted about past times in the district, there weren’t many of the old codgers left. Both had worked on the village hall and school, raising funds, serving on the committees as well, but now the school is closed and the hall barely used.

‘We’re the last two of that era! It’s all part of the big process I suppose,’ said Albert philosophically, ‘you’re born, depend on parents for a while, become so independent that you listen to no bugger, you marry and take on responsibility, work your guts out to pay the mortgage. But what for really? The ageing process is the hardest job you’ll ever do! The stuff you gathered through a lifetime – treasures, you think, are only junk to the next generation, then you have to be really, really lucky to die peacefully in your sleep!’

‘All part of the process.’ Henry repeated in agreement.



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