The confrontation with Bill and Kylie still played on Kat’s mind. Could it be that the story she’d told herself all these years about what it meant to be a good mother was all wrong? Everything she did was for her family, this generation and the last – keeping childhood memories alive, keeping family mementoes safe, keeping the family in her thoughts whenever she spotted a good bargain.
She had said as much to Bill. “What sort of a daughter, or wife, or mother would I be if I didn’t take care of it all? Someone has to do it.”
He just used it against her again. He said, “Kat, if that’s what you think being a good daughter or wife or mother is, then there’s evidence everywhere. On every surface, in every cupboard. There’s so much evidence of you being a good daughter, wife and mother that you don’t have space for us to fit in at all.
Kat took her troubles to her friends at the op shop. On her next volunteer shift, she spilled the beans to Pearl and Barbara about what Bill and Kylie had done to her. “I’m no different from you, Pearl. You’re always taking crockery home from here. You must have a wonderful collection.”
Pearl shook her head. “Oh no, I give it all to my daughter. She teaches mosaic classes. Her students have the best fun smashing it up and they make some beautiful items. I have one special piece that my daughter made for me. It’s a bird bath. I can see it from my kitchen window. That’s all that I need to make me smile.”
Kat turned to Barbara. “Well, what about you? Don’t you like to find bargains here to take home?”
Barbara shook her head too, and even turned up her nose. “Oh no, I bring a lot of stuff in, but I never take it home. Bob and I moved to a small apartment when we retired. We don’t want to be weighed down with things that don’t serve us anymore. We just live with our best stuff. I come here to give back to the community, although I do like looking at the pretty things.”
Kat was dumbfounded. She thought she’d found her tribe. Turns out she didn’t know them at all.
Barbara added, “Bill must be a very patient man if he’s taken this long to put his foot down.”
Kat thought she’d get a bit more sympathy from her new friends. Perhaps it was time to return to an old friend instead. Kat drove to Violet’s and was prepared for a frosty reception, but Violet opened the door with a smile on her face.
“Kat, I’m so glad to see you. After last time, I didn’t think you’d forgive me. Come in. I’ll put the kettle on.”
As Violet opened the cupboard to gather coffee mugs, Kat snuck a look to see if she could spot any of her missing china. But she looked in vain. She might forgive but she would never forget. “Well, a lot’s happened. Bill and Kylie have turned on me.” And she blurted out the whole story.
Violet had finished her cup of tea before she could get a word in. She took a breath, sat a little straighter and bravely told her old friend, “You know they’ve been trying to tell you for years. What will it take for you to make space for Tiffany to come and stay?”
Tears pricked Kat’s eyes. Wasn’t anybody listening to her? “But it’s hard! Nobody ever helps me! Nobody understands!”
“I’ve tried to help so many times. And Bill. And Kylie. We all want to help.”
Kat thought, “No you don’t. You just want to change me.”
Violet offered her another cup of tea, but Kat declined. She left feeling misunderstood once again. Her family had turned on her, and now her friends did too.
Why couldn’t people just see it from her point of view? If she didn’t keep the memories alive and the family history safe, then who would? Maybe she needed to speak with Louise on her own to figure out a way to make her family and friends see that one day she’ll be gone and these things were her legacy.
Catch up on all the past Adventures of Kat here.