I Remember….

orange cat

When I was two, I was looked after by a strange lady who lived in a dark house. I remember sitting on the floor in her lounge room holding a coat hanger. There were two ladies sitting on the lounge. I heard a knock on the door and I knew it was Mum. The lady pointed a finger at me and said “Now you behave yourself”. I felt very angry with her so I threw the coat hanger with all my might across the room. I ran to the front door. I could see Mum through the glass panels. I was relieved to see her.
Before I started school, I remember going into the city with Mum and my Grandfather. When we walked into the big buildings, I remember being terrified by the elevators with the cages around them. Mum used to wait downstairs for Grandfather. Maybe she hated the elevators also.
I remember Mum washing my yellow teddy bear and hanging him by the ears on the clothesline. I walked around and around the circular brick wall surrounding the clothesline…waiting for teddy to dry.

I remember something about my orange kitten and the empty block of land next door.
I remember sitting in the workmen’s caravan. The caravan sat on the empty block of land.
I can still see the workmen laughing and smiling at me.
Mum told me I found my orange kitten on the empty block of land. She told me it had been mauled by a dog.
I don’t remember that.
I remember our big fat cat called Goldy. He used to climb up the red brick walls of our house just to get in the window.
I remember dropping Goldy off in the bush. I looked out the back window as the car pulled away. Goldy sat looking at us. As he became a speck in the distance I remember feeling confused. I didn’t cry. It was strangely fun and unusual that the whole family were in the car driving around at night time with the cat. Dad said “He’ll find another little girl to look after him”. That was the last I saw of Goldy….sitting with his front paws together…watching us drive away.

I remember my brother being told to leave home. Mum was angry with him and he had a suitcase packed. My sister and I watched as he walked to the end of the patio. It was dark and he turned around and looked at us but I don’t remember anything more than a sick feeling of shock and confusion. He was ten. I was five. He came back inside the house much to my relief.
I remember my Father sitting in the car ready to drive to Canberra for work. He wore a scratchy sounding long coat and he always put a little black and white penguin covered in real fur seal into his pocket. I knew that penguin would keep him safe.
Sometimes we drove Dad to the airport. He always said he was going to Can…BERRA! I don’t really remember, but Mum told me I screamed ‘blue murder’ and sobbed….”I want my Daddy back”. I remember parts of this….the night air, the smell of fuel and the roar of the engines.
Sometimes Mum and Dad would fight. I dreaded hearing Mum picking up her car keys and leaving the house. I listened to the car motor starting and wishing she wouldn’t go. I couldn’t sleep until I heard her car in the driveway again and the sound of the car door shutting and Mums footsteps walking down the hallway.
I remember tiptoeing down the long hallway toward Mums room. It was the afternoon and Mum was having an afternoon sleep. I was frightened that she was sick. That she might not wake up. I checked to see if I could hear her breathing.
Some nights I couldn’t sleep. I felt frightened and alone. I used to go into Mum and Dads bedroom and climb into bed between them. When I was older I couldn’t do that, so I lay in bed waiting for the kookaburras to start laughing. Then I felt safe to go to sleep. By then it was dawn.
I have an orange cat. His name is Tigger. I bought Tigger when I lived alone for the first time. I was thirty three. Tigger filled the hole left in my heart by losing Goldy and the little orange kitten. I always wanted an orange cat. Now I have one and he is very special.

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