Trespassers will be prosecuted

‘You’re not living up to our standards ,’ I said to my
sister as we walked together to school. 
Up Cox Street through Robross and onto Centre Dandenong Road.  The traffic whizzed past.
My sister’s school bag flapped at her side , but with her
free hand she reached out and grabbed my hat.  Up and over the fence into the nearest yard.  I could see my hat through the fence
slats caught in the branches of a rose bush.
‘Look what you’ve done,’ I wailed.  ‘Go and get it.’
‘No way,’ she said. 
‘Get it yourself.’ 
‘But it’s trespassing.’  This much I knew: to go uninvited into someone else’s
territory was against the law. 
Trespassers will be prosecuted.
My sister was already bad.  She had written on the central blackboard at school, two
letters that defaced Mother Xavier’s orderly list, headed by the single word
Marks for order, for punctuality, for application and the
big one, worth five points, marks for deportment.
My sister had added the two letters ‘re’ to the word marks,
‘remarks’ and Mother Xavier had summoned the entire school to find the culprit.  Can you imagine my shame when my sister finally put up her
She lost her shield: two full marks for deportment, ten
points, and took a letter home to our mother.
Our poor mother, overburdened with trying to find the money
to pay our school fees and here was my sister abusing the privilege.
‘You go and get my hat,’ I said again, but my sister had
shot off ahead.
‘You’ll miss the train,’ she called back.
I had no choice then but to break the law. I slipped the latch on the gate, fearful of every
creak.  I slid up the pathway and
hunched my shoulders.  I had a plan.
If anyone came out I would apologise and tell them the wind
had blown my hat over their fence. 
No matter there was no wind. 
I could see a television screen flickering through the scrim curtains in
the front room.  The rumble of
I snatched my hat off the bush and ran for it.
‘Don’t you ever do that again, or I’ll report you to the
prefects,’ I said to my sister. 
‘And I’ll report you for not wearing your hat.’

And so it goes, sibling rivalry at its best.  

That one day of the year

There’s a note written on the back of an envelope on my desk
this morning.  I remember it now. I
wrote it in the middle of the night after waking from a dream.  I have little inkling of the dream,
though once I consult the note on the envelope all might be revealed.
Yesterday I went with my mother to visit her
cardiologist.  Her heart seems fine
at the moment, blood pressure 125 over 70, better then mine.  That one leaky valve seems to have
stopped leaking.  Her heart is
smaller and functioning well with the aid of medication. 
I mentioned to the cardiologist that my mother had lost her
sister recently and he listened patiently as my mother went over the story
again, about how she had not expected her sister who was six years younger to
die; how it is so much harder when her sister is so far away in Holland; how
she could not even go to the funeral. 
I’ve been distracted by a phone call from a colleague asking
questions about another colleague and suddenly I feel I am dragged into the
mire of politics, which is perhaps similar to the issue of sibling rivalry and
all the ugly emotions that get stirred up when families and professions are in
Enough said, back to my mother.  Earlier in the waiting room as we waited for the
cardiologist to materialise my mother mentioned the fact that tomorrow is
Mother’s Day. 
I have reservations about this day.  It stirs up mixed feelings. 
‘I’m not interested in Mother’s day,’ my mother said, as if
she had read my mind, ‘but your brother, F, came during the week with a huge
bunch of flowers.’ 
My aversion to Mother’s Day must have started long ago when
I was young.  My mother told us
repeatedly then how she was not interested in Mother’s Day.  It was a commercial ploy to get people
to send money, she said.  
I’ve tended
to agree.  On Mother’s Day we feel
obliged to honour our mothers whether we want to or not.
And for me, even if I wanted to acknowledge my debt to my
mother on Mothers Day and my love for her, it would be marred by the fact that
the opportunity arrives on this one particular day of the year when someone
else dictates that I should honour my mother.
My mother with one of her babies. I’ve yet to ask if she recognises this one.  It could be me.  For years I’ve been on the hunt for a baby photo of me.  It’s not easy.  This photo is poorly focussed and given my mother has had so many children, she must identify each by extraneous variables – the location of the photo, the dress she’s wearing, the time of year.  
I have tried to urge my children not to feel obliged
on Mothers Day. 
It was easy when they were little.  Their school might have orchestrated a card or a stall and a
small gift, but thereafter the day was as any other. 
As our children grew older and could make up their own
minds, they were less inclined to make a fuss in much the way I have not fussed
in relation to my own mother.  
My mother has urged us not to bother on Mother’s Day and yet underneath I sense her desire that we do so.
Do I want my children to acknowledge me on this special
day?  I’m not sure.
The same applies to Father’s Day.  These are days of ritual and perhaps they go further than
mere commercialism.  They stir up
feelings of ambivalence in some.  For others they might become a way of
fulfilling obligations, that one day of the year event.  After that it seems we need not acknowledge our
mothers at all.
It is the seemingly compulsory nature of Mothers Day that
troubles me. 
And as for the dream: I went into the ‘exterocet’ by clicking on to an arrow that led to the
other side of a blog.  In my dream
the exterocet was Internet speak for white space.  Terrifying white space.   No one had been there yet.  It was the equivalent of hell.  
On the surface, this snippet of dream makes little sense, but
there’s meaning there, if only I can unpick it.