What’s his name?


Against their parent’s wishes, our daughters have brought home a dog. At this stage his name is Ralph. Yesterday it was Alfie, short for Alfred. I did not want a dog, I kept telling Millie and Ella because I am fearful that the responsibility for this dog will eventually fall to me and I have enough on my plate.

It’s been going on for weeks now. Bill and I refused to cooperate, so eventually Millie took it upon herself. She used some of the money from Mr Rudd’s stimulus package to invest in this little blighter, who is a cross between a Springer spaniel, a King Charles and a Maltese terrier, I think. He’s only eight weeks old and gorgeous but I don’t think Millie slept well last night. He shared her bedroom.

Already my heart bleeds for Ralph. He cries in the night presumably for his mother and siblings. I do not want to have my heart bleed over any other creatures, but what can I do? He’s here now and as I’ve said before, life will go on. Our three cats so far seem oblivious to Ralph’s presence. Bill is convinced that Anoushka will leave home once she twigs. Who knows? She might adjust. It’s this sort of angsting that I resent. As if we do not already have enough worries. But I’ll get over it.

Optimism

All will be well, I tell myself. All will be well. I believe it too.

I’ve been around for long enough to know that something good usually happens, something comes along to lift us out of our difficulties, but in the meantime I do worry. I imagine all sorts of terrible scenarios from the minor inconvenience to the greatest of tragedies. Even as a child I worried about this. Then I worried about my mother and my siblings.

Grade five and six composite classroom. I am sitting on the side closest to the windows. I can see the roses that line the paths alongside the church. There is a storm brewing. A fierce storm with flashes of lightning and booms of thunder. Every time the sharp crack across the classroom interrupts Mother Mary John’s speaking I try to trace on my fingertips the whereabouts of all my brothers and sisters. I worry that they will be okay, that they will not be okay. If they are outside in this weather then they are in danger of electrocution or drenching. They may get carried away in a rushing drainpipe of water. This applies particularly to the two little boys, Michael and Frank.

Sometimes I go with them to explore underground pipes that run below the street level. There is a large metal sheet like a trap door next door to the boy’s school on Mont Albert road. Together the two boys are strong enough to lift it high enough for one of us to slip into the hole beneath and then crawl through the dark and sticky drainpipe all the way underneath Mont Albert Road to the other end, where the drain pipe leads out into daylight. The trap door lid at the other end is broken. Never once as I crawled through this drainpipe did I imagine myself to be in danger. Granted, we only made the trip on dry days when the sun shone, but as an adult now I shudder at the dangers we put ourselves through.