I was at Mother's yesterday. I took her for lunch and then drove her to buy some potting mix and seedlings, for a game of Snakes and Ladders to play with Little Jo when she has to look after her weekend after next, of her fortnightly treat of two date scones from the bakery and to buy a new inside rubbish bin. Apparently the one we no longer needed and gave to her in 1992 has broken.
Over lunch Mother told me the story of her childhood local milk bar/grocery shop. She has told me before, but I had forgotten, so now I am writing it down.
Mother and her father went to Oakleigh from Grandfather's market garden in South Oakeigh to buy cakes from the cake shop. Mother had selected the cakes and they returned home and awaiting them was the local milk bar/grocery shop/hardware store ablaze. It was mostly of a timber construction and so went up like a Hindu widow. The shop was on the corner of Clarinda Road and Centre Road. Bunnings and Reg Hunt Motors now occupy Grandfather's land, along with a Vic Roads place and an ice skating rink.
Grandfather's brother rescued the shop money receptacle,burning his hands in the process. What I haven't mentioned is that the owner was blind. He sat on the bank across the road, no doubt feeling the radiant heat, and kept asking what was happening. Eventually it became clear to him that his shop was burning to the ground and tears filled his blind eyes.
Sorry, but another anecdote I need to record. Mother's mother only hit her once, but it was some hiding. Mother wanted to go to car race meeting with a girlfriend to meet up with boys. Mother's mother told her she was going out too often. Her last outing had been an innocent trip to botanic gardens in Balwyn. I don't know about these gardens. But mother went to car races, motorbike races and veledrome cycling races. Mother's mother said no. I think I would have said the same to a 16 year old daughter who wanted to go to car races. Mother said she would go anyway and in my memory, Grandma was very placid and good natured. Not this day. Grandmother set off in pursuit of Mother and Mother tripped over a water pipe and Grandmother caught her. She lashed Mother with wire flex to the point of Mother bleeding from her legs, back and sides. Mother said it was the only time she was ever hit as a child. She got over it, but in later life she has thought about it often.
As a market gardener, Mother's father rose early and went to bed early. Each night she went into his bedroom and kissed him goodnight. 'You know it is funny Andrew, I can never remember kissing my mother goodnight.' I replied, 'Maybe she came into your bedroom and kissed you goodnight?'
Back to reality. Mother had a medical appointment. I dropped her and returned to her place to do a few jobs and wait for the surgery to call to pick her up. I forgot to get the door key from her. I tried a few windows and they were all secure. It is a good thing that she is locking up well. I will have to go back to the surgery to get the key from her. I am getting too old to climb through windows, regardless of whether they are open or not. As a last resort, I tried the back door. It was open. Ah, mea culpa. I went outside before we left earlier and did not relock it.
My car was in the driveway and it had become quite warm in the mild sunlight so I had left one of the windows open. I went out to the car and pressed the remote to unlock it and a manic cat hurtled frantically around inside my car. It dislodged my umbrella, turned on the wipers and the indicators, which became apparent when I started the car, and then shot out the door when I opened it. It was not more than a 100mm, four inch gap in the window where it entered. It was one of Mother's ginger strays that she feeds expensive food and special cat milk to.