Mother amazes me at times. She manages to cultivate help and assistance all around herself while she lives a lonely life at home totally dependant on her children and those who she cultivates. The point will come at the end.
Over forty years ago Mother moved into her house, bought for her by her father. My three siblings grew up there, but I was older and did not. A few doors up from Mother's house is Princes Highway, Australia's Highway Number 1, now not so important as the town has been bypassed by a freeway. On the corner of Mother's street and the highway was a former petrol station that had become a pizza restaurant, a cafe, and a pinball parlour. Stray cats hung around the back of the pizza place, no doubt savouring the various varieties of salami.
The pizza place closed down and Step Father took on the starving cats. He looked after them well, without much veterinary care. He knew his stuff about animal care. While his mantra was 'Save the Environment. Plant a Greenie, head down in a hole', he loved animals and birds, just not perhaps the environment. Sister and Step Father had many a verbal battle over the environmental matters, yet they loved each other as a father and daughter. He was very kind and generous to my siblings.
So, when he became unwell and died, Mother took over the feeding of the cats, about eleven, but not with the same standard of care. She fed them expensive cat milk and top brand cat food, but that was all she did. She never actually cared for them. I remember saying to her, take on your favourite Ginge as a house cat and get rid of all the others. Ginge was killed on the road shortly afterwards. A neighbour complained about the cats and some were incompetently trapped by the local council. Ever so slowly the cat numbers were reducing from the highest point of eleven.
By December 2017 she was down to two cats, a mother who was tame for Mother, and the mother's daughter who was not at all tame. The mother cat was looking poorly. R arrived at Mother's one day to take her out for lunch and shopping and he was confronted by a rough lad who asked if they were his cats? R replied, kind of. The bloke then went into a diatribe to R about neglecting his cats and not feeding them. It seemed the mother cat had either mange or scabies or something else. I really can't remember now. R was quite distressed about the accusation. Mother went to a veterinary surgery and paid $45 for a medication to fix the problem. She was convinced the cat was improving. R thought not.
I suppose it was by the same accuser of R's cat neglect who started leaving tuna in bowls in Mother's driveway. I suppose the same person who accused R of cat neglect reported Mother to the Royal Society of Animal Protection Australia. The aggressive young woman from the RSPCA knocked on Mother's door and was let in. Mother explained, gesturing to all the cat food and cat milk and showing the receipt for cat medication and the RSPCA person became very nice. She advised Mother that the mother cat was very sick and needed to be euthanised. She set up a trap and overnight, the Mother cat was caught. She returned the next day and took away the cat, but asked Mother about the kitten. Mother ummed and ahhed, but eventually said yes, take it, but I don't want the worry of hearing a trap door shut in the middle of the night and a cat crying. Here is where the people who Mother cultivates comes into action. Before he went to work at 5:30am, the bloke across the road set the trap. The kitten was caught and not too much later, the RSPCA returned and collected her too.
Much praise to the RSPCA which acted so professionally and yet caringly.
At some times Mother has said, the cats are the only reason I get out of bed in the morning, but sans cats, she still seems to get out of bed. The cats have given Mother and her children untold stress over many years, and finally there are no more cats. Such a relief.
All nicely tied up? No. Mother was so incensed at being accused of animal cruelty she contacted the local newspaper, but then was not game to do an interview with the reporter.
But the couple across the road are people who Mother has cultivated and they seem devoted to her, as were the ever so kind and caring dykes who lived next door to Mother. Mother spins her silken web, and pulls them in.
This letter appeared in the local newspaper, written by the neighbour across the road who set the trap. The shelter? Well they do go under Mother's house.