Days after they were spoken, Kat’s words were ringing in Bill’s ears. “You can carry me out of this house in a box. I’m staying put till I die, just like my parents did.”
All Bill’s hopes and dreams for his retirement were slipping away, getting further out of reach. The years he’d invested in keeping his marriage together, always hoping Kat would eventually see that he was more important than the house or the stuff inside it, felt like years wasted. His frustration boiled over. Bill picked up the phone and called Kylie to vent.
“Kylie, I don’t know what to do any more. Everything I’ve worked for was for nothing. Your mum just won’t budge out of this house, not even for a holiday. I always thought that once I finished work, we’d spend more time together, go travelling, see Tiffany grow up. But she’s determined to die in this place, surrounded by all her stuff. She says she’s looking after the family history. She’s up to her neck in family history and forgotten about her family! I just can’t go on like this.”
Kylie sat down hard on her kitchen chair. She knew it was bad, but she didn’t know it was this bad. She’d never heard her dad sound so dejected, and it hurt. Her own memories of home and her mother’s stuff came flooding back. She was sad, but she was also angry.
“Dad, I’ve had it with mum. Enough’s enough. It’s time for a reality check. I’m coming down on the weekend to have it out with her.”
Bill was relieved. He was also apprehensive. He could see turmoil ahead.
The days until the weekend dragged on for Bill. The glass bowl that Kat had picked up from Gladys’ downsizing party sat leaning on top of a pile of months old junk mail, an unwelcome reminder of their difficult conversation. The day finally came, and Bill tried to act surprised when Kylie walked in the door.
Kat really was surprised. “Hello Kylie! Nice to see you.” Looking past Kylie, Kat asked, “Where’s Tiffany? Why didn’t you tell me you were coming? I’d have baked.”
“The last time you tried that, it didn’t go well. Did it, mum?”
Kat could tell from the tone of Kylie’s voice that this was not an ordinary, friendly visit. She pushed her shoulders back and stiffened her spine.
“Mum, we need to talk. Let’s go outside.”
“It’s a bit chilly outside. We can talk in here.”
“Put on a cardigan. There’s nowhere for us to sit without having to move stuff around. I don’t want to have to look at all this stuff.”, Kylie said, waving her arm like a model demonstrating prizes on a game show. But Kylie did not think of them as prizes. She headed straight out the back door.
“Dad, can you get the folding table and chairs out of the caravan?”
Bill brought the table and two chairs. Kylie insisted on a third chair. “You need to be in on this too.”
Kat wondered what was on Kylie’s mind. She seemed really put out. Was she breaking up with Bruce? It didn’t take long for Kylie to come right to the point.
“Mum, I hear you’re intending to die here, surrounded by all your stuff, just so you can pass this stinking pile on to me. You need to listen to me once and for all. I don’t want it. I don’t want any of it. To me it’s just a constant reminder of being too embarrassed to have friends over. All that stuff in there is the reason I could never have a birthday party like other kids. I can’t even let Tiffany come and stay for a sleepover. Do NOT burden me with the responsibility of dealing with all that after you’re gone.”
Kylie took a deep breath and continued in a gentler tone. “Mum, I love you. This is not how I would have preferred to handle this. But something has to change. You have to see how this affects Dad and me and Tiffany. You’ve lost friendships over your stuff. Don’t lose your family as well.”
Kat was shocked. “Bill, don’t let Kylie speak for you. Aren’t you going to say something?”
Bill turned to Kylie with tears in his eyes. “Kylie, I am so sorry that I didn’t stand up for you. I really regret that you had such a hard time living here.”
Kat was even more shocked. They were all turning on her. This family intervention was like a slap in the face. But she had to admit that Kylie’s childhood was similar to her own. And that stung.
Catch up on all the past Adventures of Kat here.