To get us some money, mum found herself a job working for Greek people at a milk-bar in Wellington town and Nana stayed on to look after us kids. I remember Nana giving us kids tea-time, sponge baths, taken sitting on the kitchen bench, our feet submerged in a sinkful of warm water. When mum arrived home from her work, I heard a new word, ‘Divorce. Then she said to Nana, ‘little pigs have big ears’, and I guessed they were talking about something they didn’t want me to hear.
One of our next-door neighbors, in Purser Grove, were the ‘Jones’ family. They had heaps of kids, and one of their boys, named Mike, was in my class at school.
When his dog went walkabout after school one afternoon, Nana let me join him on a hunt. Together, we trod all dad’s veggie run streets, looking and calling, but had to call it quits when night started coming.
Knocking on our door, I was surprised to see mum was home early, and had on her mad face. I knew I was in trouble, and her big whack made me fall over. When she started kicking me, Nana heard the ruckus and came running out shouting at her to stop.
Dad came to our house for a, ‘Goodbye’ last visit to us kids, he and his girlfriend were going to a far away place, called Australia. I remember, he was dressed up in his long grey gabardine raincoat, and when I cried, he got a big white hankie from his pocket to mop up my face.
He left promising to write and send me and my sister a Koala bear at Christmas time. I liked my sister’s Koala best when they arrived because it had white fluffy fur on its ears. Dad sent me a letter asking me to write and tell him what I wanted for my birthday, and I wrote back asking for a heart signet ring, but we never got any more letters.
I got scared to close my eyes to sleep at night, because the minute I did, I felt just like the White Rabbit in my ‘Alice in Wonderland’ book. It was as if I was falling down into a deep black hole getting really giddy. Horrible giant-sized slaters, like in mum’s garden, started appearing in my dreams. In the scary nightmares, they crawled up the wallpaper beside my head while I lay pinned to my bed unable to move.