Mother's side fence was replaced about fifteen years ago. The adjoining double gates between her place and the neighbour were also replaced. Step Father and Mother still had dreams of touring Australia in their caravan stored in the back yard, with the only way to get it out of the back yard was through the double gates in the side fence then up the neighbours driveway. The dreams were unrealised. The caravan was towed away to the tip and that was the last time the gates were used.
Nearly forty years ago Mother moved into the house. The next door neighbours, Des and Joan became great friends of our family. Des and Joan separated. Des stayed on and remarried, a lovely Filipina woman, Remy. Des died. Remy lived on quite happily, working at a major, with an adult daughter and was great to my mother. Oddly a few years ago, Remy suicided. Mother was heartbroken. No one could understand why she did. She was lovely.
The house was sold by her daughter to a workmate of my ABI Brother, an avaricious woman it would seem. Mother has a nuisance tree near her back door, a large lilly pilly tree. It is about fifty years old. Tradie Brother feels a sentimental attachment to the tree.
The neighbour wants the tree removed as it is causing problems to her house and is prepared to pay half for its removal. She also wants the 15 year old fence replaced with the usual cost sharing between properties of fence replacement. Nothing really unreasonable yet.
She tried calling Mother at home, but of course Mother is still living with great care at ABI Brother's place. She intends going home, but may not. She intends selling her home, but she is not sure when.
So, via work, she had ABI Brother's phone number and called him, except Mother answered and the woman could talk directly to Mother. The whole family were quite happy to hand the matter over to me. ABI Brother gave her my phone number and she called. That is funny. ABI said she was some sort of Pacific Islander, but she sounded Indian to me.
I consulted individually with my siblings. Tradie Brother was firm that the fence was reasonably ok and the tree was staying. Sister was ambivalent and pretty well said 'whatever, if we have to pay, then we have to pay'. ABI Brother was eager to please.......family and the woman.
The phone call began, Hi. I am your mum's neighbour. Well, I will stop right here. She has never lived in the house and has not been a neighbour to Mother of any description. Her tenants, two absolutely lovely dog loving dykes really got the charm offensive from Mother, and they responded and were so kind to Mother, even after they moved out and subsequently separated. They came with dogs, which Mother loved, and there was always an extra dog there, as they rehabilitate dogs with behavioural issues.
She went on, your mother cries poor but we really need to fix the fence. I replied, my mother is poor and it will be up to we children to pay.
The next tenant was a bearded hipster who came with an Asian born partner and a bearded hipster mate and two dogs. Their house warming party was beyond belief, but they settled down in time and it did not take long for Mother to set them up to be caring towards their elderly female neighbour. They were so kind to her too, but the dykes still keep in touch with Mother. One sent Mother a $50 voucher for Christmas after they moved out. Another time they left a hamper of food and other stuff for her. I've only seen them, not met them. They seem very down to earth and butch dykes, quite unlike Sister and Bone Doctor. I may have said this before, but my mother is awfully good at getting sympathy and kindness from people, rather as a spider draws a fly into its trap.
Mother after her wasted three week care and comfort hospital stay where she lounged around in bed and mostly refused to participate in physiotherapy got a fright once she was discharged to ABI Brother's place. She realised she had become very weak and to her credit, has been walking a good bit and has recovered her somewhat weak strength.
So the phone call came from Mother's neighbour about the fence and the tree. I agreed to nothing and just asked her to give quotes for whatever. Then she made a terrible mistake by asking for my email address, the one that has my real name and I only use for work. I am not a person of the spoken word. I am a person of the written word. That is why you are reading this and I am not talking to you on the phone. It was a gotcha moment.
I did work out by her name that she is of Indian descent. I asked our Indian Fijian friend. Yes there are sikhs in Fiji.
Before reading our to and fros, you need to know that this person has her property on the market and under contract, meaning that there is a sale, subject to conditions. Maybe they are tree removal or the new fence.
Mother has finally confessed to R that she won't be returning to her home of nearly forty years. In spite of her trying to always work things out well, for herself, it is rather sad. I still don't know if ABI Brother is happy to have her living with him for an extended period. I can't have a private conversation with him on the phone as Mother is always there. I said to him once hoping Mother was out of earshot, is Mother in the room? And he replied, yes, I'll hand you over. Bye.
This has taken a few days to write. She has decided to sell her house using some kind of broker who advertises on commercial old people's radio. That would be 3AW. She has sent me the brochure. I haven't read it yet. (I have now and I am reasonably impressed.)
I did work out by her name that she is of Indian descent. I asked our Indian Fijian friend. Yes there are Sikhs in Fiji.
When the house next door is sold, the house will no doubt be demolished and units built. When Mother's house is sold, exactly the same will happen. Developers will make a killing when they build multiple units on the sites. Here is the conversation so far via email between me and Mother's non neighbour B.
please find your attached quote for the paling fence
sent by **** fencing...
No quote was attached. A second email arrived with the quote attached.
No quote was attached. A second email arrived with the quote attached.
I replied and realised that the fence quote was for a capped fence and two metres high rather than the standard 1.7 metres.
Thanks B. We are looking at the quote.
B sent an email with the quote for the tree removal.
Hi andrew i have got a quote for the tress and stumps remove from your property near the fence most big ones so the fence can be done i am waiting for the gay send me the qote it s about $2020.00 and he will take all rubbish or chips as soon he sends me the paperwork i will send to youthanks
I replied and not heard from her since.
Regarding the tree, we have sought advice and while you are free to remove any branches and foliage on your side of the fence, we are not under any obligation to do anything else with the tree. However, we may be open to a reduction in the height of the 50 year old tree and this would be at your expense.
As for the fencing quote, we are a little concerned about the professionalism of the company who submitted the quote when the quotation form had the most basic words, height and metre, misspelt. If we do agree to a replacement fence, we will pay for like for like, that is an uncapped fence at the current fence height, which I believe is 1.2 metres at the front for 3 metres back, rising to 1.7 metres for the rest of its length. Perhaps you would be able to get amended quotes? As you may or may not know, one of my brothers is a builder and he is going to check the soundness of the fence and we will decide from there. We certainly agree the gates need to be removed and replaced with new fencing.
However, I am sure it is not over. But honestly, what is the point of all this. She is selling her investment property, Mother is selling her home. Who cares about the fence when we know both houses are about to be knocked down. Tradie Brother told me his previous employers' practice when a multi unit development goes ahead, that the developer pays for a new fence as some compensation for the noise and inconvenience of the demolition and building. He added that this was pretty well standard practice.
I have never lived in the house as I was older on away from home then, but my siblings did and I expect the sale of the house where they grew up will be somewhat emotional for them, and of course even more so for Mother. Mother could have had a good few years since Step Father died instead of years of worry about money and her circumstances. Instead of changing her situation, she clung to the past. I get that, but it was not a wise choice to make.