I remember the digger. Little boys don't forget things like that. The caterpillar tracks churned up what would become my family's backyard.

Dad was trim and fit - not that he isn't now. I remember his tool belt and his cut-off shorts and how we'd visit him for lunch breaks as he transformed a frame into a home.

The backyard never stood a chance. The lawn barely had time to grow. My siblings and I would wear down a track and hold demolition derbies on our skateboards. We'd stumble in at dusk, grubby and bloody and thrilled.

In winter, I'd stand at the bottom of the section and kick a rugby ball over the hedge. In 25 summers the neighbourhood lads lost 2500 tennis balls. For a decade, maybe, we had a sandpit.


I remember sharing a bedroom with my sister. I remember when Mum and Dad brought each of our baby siblings home.

I remember endless nights lolling in front of our log-burning fire. I remember forcing my brother to wrestle me in the lounge. I remember sneaking chocolate biscuits and playing basketball on the drive. I remember playing musical concerts for our grandparents at Christmas time.

I remember when Mum and Dad tried to save a sick little hedgehog. I remember where Hector's buried. I remember when Dad decided to build a carport and then a sleep-out. I'll always remember his sketchy, homemade shelves.

I remember every creak of the lino floors and the view from every room. I remember raucous neighbourhood parties, late nights lost to red wine and the Rolling Stones.

I remember everyone sleeping together in the lounge on February 22.

I remember the day I left home.

One night a few weeks back, Mum and Dad took us to dinner. They had an announcement, they told us, with sadness and pride. The earthquake repairs are finished. No kids are holding demolition derbies anymore.

Our house sold on Thursday. A new family's set to move in.

Life is rich and beautiful.

Jack Tame is on Newstalk ZB, Saturdays, 9am-noon