Memories vs Real Life

Shortly before I was born my parents moved into a new block of flats.  Their house had been taken for road widening (I think) and so they were offered this new flat.  It had two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bathroom.

I learned that the complex was opened in January 1938 and was originally called Morley House but in 1984 was renamed Nelson Mandela house in recognition of the statesman.  At about that time there was a raft of name changes of buildings and streets to recognise Mandela not only in London but all around the United Kingdom.

Nelson Mandela House

"Nelson Mandela House by sarflondondunc, on Flickr"

 I couldn’t find any photos of the complex from when we lived there – we moved when I was 11 and my family were not into taking photos of other than their three daughters.  It is very strange how different things are in real life compared to our memory of them.  In my memory there were only three or four stories in each of the blocks, but I see from this photo that in fact there were five.  Did someone add to the block in the 60 plus years since we lived there?

Our grandparents lived in the same complex and so they were very much part of our lives.  In the same complex but in a different block, lived our grandmother’s younger sister with her two daughters.  This aunt was more my mother’s age and her two daughters were our age.  So on the very odd occasion when mother wasn’t home for us after school she could arrange for us to be at one or other of these family apartments.

Each apartment had a small verandah that overlooked a common square and each day coming home from school we would look up and see our grandfather sitting enjoying the passing parade.  I think he must have been quite sick for a long time because I don’t remember that he left the flat very often.

When I went back a few years ago I was horrified to see how the whole complex had deteriorated.  The gardens had been concreted over to allow cars to be parked – of course, when we lived there few people owned cars and so the very few garages available to tenants were sufficient.

How different life is now when families are scattered around the country and in some cases (like ours) around the world.  Are our children missing out on the close companionship of cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents?

So what’s the point of this post?  Just another journey down memory lane.

Nobody has ever before asked the nuclear family to live all by itself in a box the way we do.
With no relatives, no support, we’ve put it in an impossible situation.
Margaret Mead


Photo - Ed Dear


17 responses to “Memories vs Real Life

  1. Margaret Mean has it right. So many of us long for community and the connection of family. We create our own families, if we are fortunate, and are blessed by their presence in our life.

  2. One can never diminish the importance of family. At least now we can connect with each other easily no matter how far away. When my grandparents immigrated from south Russia to Canada, 100 years ago, they never saw or seldom heard from the ones left behind. That must have been hard. My husbands family is in England and Spain and we keep in touch almost daily. Love your walks down memory lane.

  3. So true…. We lived around the corner from my aunt/uncle and cousins. Then my family was transferred (due to my father’s job) to another state. Now our extended family reaches from one coast to the other.
    But those 15 years were just heaven….living so close. I often wonder how different our lives would be if dad hadn’t been transferred out of state all those years ago. It is hard to “go home” again, for sure. Good post.

    • Thanks Judy. We lived very close to my parents siblings and had this large number of cousins when we were growing up. My children missed out on that as there was nobody else in NZ from our family. Many years later I discovered a second cousin living in Auckland. He has been there for many years and we are now in regular contact. But his girls and my children missed out on the interaction when they were young.

  4. Things have changed so much, haven’t they?

  5. It’s sad when you see a childhood home that is not quite as you remembered it. I know there are many families that are scattered, but much of my small family lives in the same part of the country as we do. I would love to live somewhere else, but I think it’s important for kids to spend time with grandparents (like I did) so I stay put 🙂

    • I have always felt that while my children gained a lot by living in three different countries, they missed out on not having family close by.

  6. Nicw trip down memory lane. Its horrifying to see how many gardens have been turned into carparks

  7. Thanks for another trip down your memory lane. It’s always facinating to see how other people grew up.
    I often find it disappointing going back to places I knew as a child, I always remember them bigger and better than they were, and they’ve almost always changed.
    On the other hand though, it makes my memories all the more special. 🙂

  8. Hi, Judith, this post caught my eye because my husband, Peter, only recently posted a picture of the house his mother grew up in, She was actually born there in 1900. It’s an apartment building in Berlin-Kreuzberg. Peter also grew up in Kreuzberg in a block of flats not far from where his grandparents lived. He recently was sent some pictures from the entrance of one of the buildings the way it looks now, also from the yard area which has been planted with greenery. Blocks of flats are surrounding this yard. Peter says in the past the yard hadn’t been planted like this. All these memories I find quite interesting. Some areas in Berlin had been totally destroyed during WW II. None the less quite a few of the very old buildings have been given new life.
    We live in Australia and Peter can find out about everything that’s going on in Berlin via the Internet. This is so marvellous!

    • Thank you for your comment. Life has to move on and the fact that what once was a garden area is now a carpark is sad but I suppose it is necessary in today’s changed world.
      As you say, the internet is fantastic. We can keep up with what’s happening on the other side of the world, so very easily with it!

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