My step mother could be described as brusque at times. Upon meeting her, R was immediately afraid of her. All Father's grandchildren were cautious when around her, but really, she is a very loving person who had an extremely hard poverty filled childhood and was a deserted wife left with two children to bring up and her highflying son died in his fifties. Her daughter in a good personal relationship with her second partner and has custody of some of her grandchildren because of parental drug issues. Unlike Mother, Step Mother is a mistress of budgeting money. Also unlike Mother at 83, she is a couple of years older, she is very social, has a partner, drives, has a mobile phone, a digital camera and her first computer ran Windows 3.1. She is on Facebook and posts at times. The contrast between them is remarkable yet they share the same old fashioned first name.
Her at times brusque manner comes from her being defensive about her humble background and a feeling that she is inferior to most people. She whinged and complained often at my father, very often, but it was like water off a duck's back to him. He would just laugh. She loved my father dearly and I think he loved her equally. By the noises the teenage me heard in the night, the biz happened very satisfyingly well between them.
She stayed here with us one night a number of years ago. Next morning she complained, I don't know how you can live in such an expensive place and buy such cheap tissues. Dearest Step Mother, that is how we can afford to live in an expensive place, and besides, there are good quality tissues in your bedroom on your bedside table.
You maybe remember we shared a caravan park cabin with her late last year at Fire Fighting Nephew's wedding. Apparently I am always a corrupting influence on her, causing her to drink too much. Oh, yes, she likes a drink, cider being her tipple, whereas Mother now never drinks.
Did you know I am a trained shooter of guns? Maybe I was about ten when Father bought me an air rifle, or slug gun. I shot lethal holes in tin cans, a hole in my bedroom window, to my shame I shot frogs in the dam, but to less shame, tried to shoot my brother, that resulted in the hole in my bedroom window. My brother deserved the failed shooting.
Father went on to show me how to shoot and safely carry a .22 rifle, a .303 shotgun, and some sort of old military weapon with a name like Martini. Yes, even how to safely cross a barbed wired fence with a loaded gun. I never really found shooting terribly interesting and stopped after one of the guns hurt my shoulder with its harsh recoil. Ok, I have now checked. Martini-Enfield was also a .303, double barrelled and I saw the words Zulu era.
Step Mother and myself had a conversation when in caravan park cabin when we stayed for nephew's wedding last year. Andrew, it's about your father's guns. They are up in the roof at home. Do you want them? Oh, the possibilities!!! I could use the .22 to take out stupid individual motorists below The Highrise. I could use the shotgun to take out a whole gaggle of posh Melbourne Grammar schoolboys at the tram stop, our future politicians and business leaders. I could sell them on Ebay. Is that allowed? But apathy set in, and I said no. Ok, said SM. I will hand them into the police to be destroyed.
Guns can be quite beautiful works of art. I remember the highly polished and incredibly smooth wooden butt of my air rifle. Maybe it was the Martini that had beautiful carving on the butt. The oiled metal is deliciously cold to touch, but they are going and will be destroyed. That is as it should be.