Tuesday, 29 March 2016

"This place is like an airport!"

my nephew told me. 
Well yes, there were rather a lot of people in and out of the house yesterday.  Even now that can happen but I was amused by his description because my mother used to complain that the house was like a railway station. There were always people in and out.
This did not happen when I was a mere kitten. We almost never had people visit. If they did they rarely stayed more than a few minutes. It would be to drop something off or pick something up.
My parents were the local school teachers. People didn't "just drop in" on them. My mother discouraged it. 
She wasn't being rude. She just didn't have time to entertain casual visitors. Bu the time I was aware of these things my mother was teaching full time and caring for a family with four children under the age of ten and a husband doing his degree one subject at a time. Her attitude towards visitors continued the entire time my parents lived in the country.
I can understand it in a way. She probably needed space of her own, away from the "teacher" bit. We children knew not to invite children home to play - or to accept invitations to their places. We grew up being "self-sufficient".
It really didn't change much once we were in the city. What my mother later complained of was the very minor version of what must happen in most households with normal, healthy, outgoing teens.  Certainly Nephew Cat and his brother brought their friends home. I remember prowling in once to find four Chinese, three Indian, and the two "Greeks", sitting around the kitchen table consuming pizza they had made themselves. Middle Cat (their mother) just shrugged and said she hoped they would clean up the mess. They did. 
Our mother would not have let that happen even when we were in late adolescence. It wasn't the sort of thing she felt comfortable with. Her family would never have been able to afford to feed all those extra mouths. It became a habit with her.
It is only since my mother died that people have "dropped in". I know it doesn't happen nearly as much with us as it does with some people. I know Middle Cat's household can be chaotic at times. Her husband is part of a very large Greek clan and they see one another constantly.
But  yesterday things were different and it reminded me of one, long ago, weekend when a former teacher on my father's staff was leaving for England. We were back in the city by then. We were taking his precious cat, a Siamese with "purr-sonality". He arrived with the cat sitting on his shoulder. John was staying with us for the weekend as well. 
John had been a popular teacher. He was a good friend too. And people knew he was leaving for the other side of the world. He was going to teach music in one of the big choir schools. We all knew it was something special.
All weekend people "dropped in" to say "goodbye". My mother was bewildered I think. She produced seventeen meals and many more cups of tea that weekend. I don't think she had ever even contemplated doing something like that but some people had travelled long distances to say their farewells. At the end of it she said to the Senior Cat, "This place has been like a railway station this weekend."
Yes, perhaps it was a little like that. I never really found out what she thought of it. I doubt she liked it much.
Yesterday though I looked at the Senior Cat and decided that he didn't really mind at all. After all a lot of people his age don't have visitors.

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