The Norfolk Island pine in our backyard stood as a beacon in the neighbourhood, the lighthouse to draw us home. We climbed its branches and swayed in the wind at its peak, surveying the housing estate that was burgeoning around us. The tumble of pushbikes at someone’s front door signalled afternoon tea. Back fences were not a barrier to us as children, but merely another adventure.
The day my father left there were three white envelopes on the kitchen table that looked like gravestones, one for each of us children. I was the first home and in the background the scream of a chainsaw brought down the pine.