For days now I have been thinking about that inevitable time when Number 11 will no longer be home.
My family moved here when I was 7 years old. In June I will be 50.
My grandmother died here. My sister too. And then my dad.
In the time in-between - when I lived elsewhere - I have spent many hours thinking about Number 11 and dreaming about a time of innocence that now all but seems to be fading.
I idolized my youth inside its wall. During the heyday of apartheid it was a safe place. A radical place. And a place of escape for more than just my family.
This morning a kind administrator at a local hospital looked across the reception desk and asked me: "Who would be your closest relative to call just in case we can't get hold of you."
I thought for what must have been a very long moment as the young women waited patiently.
"I really don't know. There is no one left except the two of us. Is it OK if I gave you the number of mom's best friend?"
"Of course it is," she answered punctuating a hanging reality that the only family I have left in this world is my moms.
And so it is. The course of life runs and for moments - even decades - we think it will always be so.
And then the creep. First the doubt and denial. Then the inevitability of that precarious and final of all balances.
I got to thinking late this afternoon that maybe we should leave Number 11 before it holds only me.
But then I also thought that it would be a betrayal of the closest my small family has come to having a semblance of roots.
I settled on the recognition that the course of my life has taught me that you never really get to unpack forever.
PS: See Deborah Orr's "Clearing out my parents' house for
the final time brought a certain serenity" (Guardian, January 31).