Yesterday I spent the whole day packing up my elderly great aunt’s house. She is 97 and has just moved into a home close to my Dad. She has been like his mother since Dad’s mother (her sister) died 50 years ago. Flickrset starting here.
She lived in the same little council flat in Palmerston North since 1943 and we used to visit her there frequently. The flats were built during Mickey Savage’s time as Prime Minister under his “Cradle to the Grave” social welfare policy. As aunty Nora would say “Bless you Mr Savage”. Times have changed but I won’t go into that!
Everything had to go. She now has one tiny room with the basics. Nora seems to have no regrets, she walked out of the house without a backward glance all she really wanted to take was her cat and a suitcase of clothes. I think that is part of the secret to her longievity, she’s survived a depression, world war, two husbands, the roll back of the welfare state, but she keeps a smile on her face. Oh and she smokes half a pack of cigarettes a day much to my father’s anguish. She has a sharp sense of humour and never takes anything too seriously. I hope I can be more like that (minus the ciggies).
Despite having people care for her everyday and cleaning the house the place was filthy. Nora is leagally blind and very frail so she hasn’t cleaned the house for years (oh and did I mention she never did like house work anyway!). My hands turned black just from picking things up and putting them in boxes. A mixture of niccotine and cooking grease seemed to cover everything. The pictures left white shadows on the walls. Housing New Zealand never recarpeted so under the furniture carpet moths had eaten away leaving big bald patches. The whole house has all the original fittings, meat safe, everything.
By the end of the day my mind was spinning from all the amazing discoveries, dust and mothballs.
We found gold jewellery tucked away in with table clothes, crown lynn and crystal shoved to the back of the china cabinet. We even found a mummified dead bird behind some drawers ( I have no idea why no-one smelt or found it!). Hand stitched doilies she’d made with her mother, old linen, crockery, glasswear, homemade joinery, you name it. A million Osti frocks. The little daily objects from the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s I found most wonderful. I saved what I could and drove home with the car overflowing with treasures that no-one else wanted. I spent a lot of time running outside saying “Don’t put that on the skip!!”
Love you Nora x