fish your days are numbered (note the number displayed on this guppy)
The gentle hum of the fish tank has, through the years, become a familiar background noise and it is quite soothing to watch fish and bubbles go through their daily ballet routine. It has however been a bumpy 'love affair' this fish tank thing and I because when my hubby first started this hobby of fish keeping I just couldn't see the point of it all.
He would sit for hours on end just looking at the fish tank and I thought it rather an odd thing for a man to do. One cannot interact with fish they just eat and poop and then poop some more! And since I inherited the chore of cleaning the tank and the filter and changing the water you can well imagine how enthusiastic I was about sharing both my time and my man with the bloody bubble blowers!
Then along came the day that I decided I would do something about this vacant staring of my beloved into the tank of fish. Something should be done about it, it was abnormal to stare at fish for hours on end.
The deed was done and, Ha, I couldn't wait to see my hubby's face! But, as things have a strange way of diverting the course of justice, hubby had invited some friends for supper and informed me, as they do: 'Tim and John will be here soon, hope there's beer in the fridge, and hope you haven't started cooking yet, I've invited them over for supper'. Well, as it turned out there was no beer and I hadn't expected company for supper so I had to rush to get to the shops for some 'man food'. On the way out I bumped into Tim and John at the door (who I had never met before) and said: ' Hi guys, go straight in he's in the lounge' and rushed off to get the needed man stuff.
I was surprised since both men had come dressed in suits carrying black attache cases and I thought to myself well, well, I had better slap up something more than just man food tonight as they were clearly expecting a three course meal dressed like that! Murderous thoughts swirled about in my head as I thought what I would do to my loving hubby for springing such a surprise on me!
Anyway, as is my forgiving nature, I went about quite happily considering a fitting meal for hubby and colleagues and chucked a bottle of wine into the mix as well.
When I got home all was silent and I had a feeling of acute foreboding, the tingle down the spine that shouts out clearly 'all is not well'. As I stepped into the lounge I saw five grown men huddled around the fish tank in silence. My next thought was that I had not catered for five men and I was quite sure that hubby had said Tim and John, full stop. I coughed discreetly to draw hubby's attention, all five men jumped up, like guilty children caught at a mischief of some sort.
Hubby said 'Tim and John have arrived' I thought that was a fruitless response as they had arrived as I was leaving and I sent them through to the lounge so I walked toward 'the suits' with my hand extended and said 'hi Tim, hi John'. They however backed away as though I was inflicted with the plague. Hubby pulled his hand through his hair sheepishly and said this is Tim and this is John, pointing to the two men in T-Shirts who had arrived while I was away. I pointed at the suits who had retreated back to the fish tank and whispered to hubby 'so who are they then?' He shrugged and said 'I don't know I thought they were waiting to see you because you sent them in!'
Well it turned out that 'the suits' were a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses who I so casually ushered into the lounge to join hubby at his fish tank vigil. They left without apology, preach nor prayer after introductions were made but assured us they were delighted to meet us and yes we had a marvellous fish tank.
The folly of my deed then struck me with all the might of a thunderbolt! I had pasted, at the back of the fish tank, a poster of a topless woman because I thought that staring at a fish tank for hours on end was rather an odd thing for a man to do!
Fortunately hubby took it in good humour and Tim and John appreciated the underwater scenery so I left them huddled around the fish tank with cold beers while I happily slapped
up some man food. And that's how it's meant to be! And, yes, we do have a marvellous fish tank!
Childhood memories have been haunting me of late and I wonder if it is something that happens when one grows older.
A philosopher friend of mine once said that life is like a clock and from birth the clock begins to wind up till one reaches ones 'middle age', (when the winder has reached it's limit), then it starts to wind down slowly. He intimated that, with the winding down of the clock, life slowly begins to wind down until it eventually stops and of course death is eminent. This revelation came about when we were discussing how time seems to fly when one gets older. It is like a journey to an unknown destination. It takes forever to get there but the return trip seems much shorter. The idea seemed a bit strange to me at first but the more I thought about it the more it seemed to make sense.
Or perhaps it is the passing of my dear mother that has triggered these childhood memories that are invading my thoughts so incessantly. I have always been of the mind that the past is just that, the past, it cannot be changed nor mooned over.
These days I find myself digging in boxes re-reading age old letters and cards from friends, some long gone, some so far away. I find myself thumbing through photographs, some faded and torn, some faces I can't put names to anymore. And I'm locked in a time bubble of the past.
My mother, paternal grandmother, sister, and brothers and myself
I wonder if childhood memories are accurate or merely selective. For instance I don't remember this day very well at all but judging by the bareness of the trees and the presence of my grandmother, who never lived with us or near us, I would judge it to be August which was my fathers birthday month. And we would have had a picnic at the river to celebrate. I do know however that I didn't like going fishing with my father simply because we had to sit very quitely so as not to 'scare the fish'. I considered this a punishment because I could never sit still.
Kate drew her palms across the cool, smooth surface of the oak table in her mother-in-law's kitchen, spotless except for the perfect circle left by her mug of tea. She stared at her mother-in-law's ridged back as she busied herself scrubbing at the spotless sink, her bony fingers bright red at the knuckles. Kate's head ached and her split lip throbbed, tears stung her bruised cheeks as they rolled uncontrolled down her face.
'Tell me what I should do' her low voice quavered and she felt uncomfortably weak. 'How many times can I walk into the door or fall down the stairs, Mom?'
'People are already beginning to believe him. He has told everyone we know that I am an alcoholic and that I stumble and fall down drunk every night. No one will believe me now. You know how he comes across the kindest most loving husband on earth in company. No one will believe me!' Her shoulders shook uncontrollably and she hated herself for her weakness.
'What must I do Mom, tell me, he is your son!' Her mother-in-law stood silent, for a moment Kate thought she saw the ridged shoulders drop slightly but she returned to her scrubbing abruptly and said. 'He is your husband.'
Kate was devastated, perhaps her husband had got to his mother as well, she was oddly distant today. Not that they ever got on like a house on fire but there was always a polite regard for each other.
'He is getting more aggressive Mom, please you have to help me!' Kate rose from her chair, every muscle in her body ached. 'He is like his father Kate' she almost whispered. Kate never knew her father-in-law and was surprised that she had mentioned him. 'He lived his life with dignity and he died with dignity, yes with dignity' she chuckled. 'Everyone loved him of course. He was the life of any party. The best lover, the best husband, the best father in the world ... in everyone's eyes I was the luckiest woman in the world, yes I was lucky..' Her face became set and when she looked into Kate's eyes, for the very first time, she felt a bond with the mother of her husband.
'Mom, I know you would love grand children' Kate stammered but I can't, I just can't put an unborn child through this misery, you have to understand that!' It was as though she had slapped her mother-in-law in the face. 'Dear Lord Kate wake up girl there is strength in weakness and I would suggest that you put that to good use!' Kate's whole world came tumbling down around her. She was really on her own in this nightmare situation.
As Kate turned to leave she felt her mother-in-law's hands on her shoulders. She winced with pain as her mother-in-law spun her around. Her eyes were wide with fear as she tried to gauge her mother-in-laws' intentions. To her surprise Kate saw her eyes were filled with tears as she reached into her apron pocket and pressed something into her hand.
The tiny phial felt cool and smooth in Kate's palm and the look in her mother-in-law's eyes told her a truth she would never forget.