The girls ready for another day. They laugh and chat and gossip and talk. I type. Walking down the hallway I try to engage my eldest sister in a conversation, and within a minute she starts shouting at me again. It’s a bit rude actually. I’m over it.
“Are these your photos or the photographer’s photos?” she demands. They are the photographer’s photos, but I have put them on your usb stick, as you asked me to.
"YES I KNOW, BUT LAST TIME I COULDN’T ACCESS THE DISC SO I WANT TO KNOW IF….BLAH BLAH BLAH."
I’m not sure what she gets, and doesn’t get, but I’m over it. Today my brother John arrives. That might clinch the deal.
Across the road an industrial sprinkler beats, watering half of the lawn and the entire concrete driveway. Behind me in the two small brick units, an orange vested man mows dust, followed by another man who whipper snips. The noise is comforting. Childhood. Rockhampton is having a working day.
When dad passed away, Butcherbirds and Magpies began to visit mum’s back deck, singing to her as she sat in the sun ‘warming her old bones.’ She feeds them mince, and throws it in the air for them to catch on the wing. The Maggies she feeds by hand, and they swap songs for food.
They have become a much loved ritual and part of our family, most if not all of them having names. We are familiar with their antics, and enjoy them very much, but the birds haven’t been seen since mum was taken away in an ambulance. Carolyn tells me that when the front open opened to allow mum’s stretcher to pass through, Mr Fluffy sat on the chair with his head cocked to one side, silently watching mum’s departure.
He didn’t sing.
Yesterday, the hospital rings: "Doctor says he can see no new fractures, so Pearl doesn’t need an operation”. We sit in stunned silence until we over talk each other with cries and exclamations of “That’s great!” “Wow, I thought for sure...” “Amazing!”
Within two minutes Mr Fluffy whirled into the house as the door was slid open, and he sat expectantly on the chair he thinks he owns. Within minutes he was joined on the deck by the other three Butcherbirds, and two Maggies.
The birds have returned.
The parrots are a constant guest, eating the bread and honey left daily for them, and they helicopter to the trees in a blur of colourful feathers. We take the birds return as a positive sign, and we are relieved. Mum will be fine.