Continuing the tradition of family hospitality, when the elder of my younger two sisters started work she moved from living at home in the country to my home on the coast. At the time she was vegan, we were all working & commuting, and so we ate a lot of vege rice. I remember Bo, our dog, considering sadly the usually coveted dinner leftovers in her bowl, and looking at me as if to say, not again.
All of us busy, it was a DIY household. My sister summoned me to deal with the sizeable huntsman spider in her bathroom. Not my bathroom. Not my problem. Deal with it, was my response. To her credit she did, compassionately, with a dustpan and brush.
When my sister decided to end a relationship with a guy she had dedicatedly pursued for quite some time, an afternoon of music and cooking was in order, and so we created Nirvana-Lasagne.
My sister is a good musician and terrible sleeper. I believe there is a correlation. Many early morning hours the dull sound of her electric guitar, unplugged, could be heard emanating riffs from the crack under the door to her room.
During the time of my sister’s residence, the cats – Baddy & Jack, and Bo benefited most from her company, as my then husband and I were both away a lot. The timing was great. The furry ones loved the extra attention, lap and set of opposable thumbs to open food and doors. The cats colonized her bed, even when we were home.
Bo benefited from my sister’s occasional absentmindedness. Away, I called one night, chatted for a while to my sister and was surprised to have her call me straight back. Bo, she wailed, ate my dinner. I waited. I just made creamed corn and soy cheese toast when you called, and put it down on the foot stool. I’m a horrible sister; all I could do was laugh. Bo, not one to miss a food opportunity, was apparently approving of that vegan delicacy if not the vege rice.
If the furry-ones adored her, my sister loved them equally. The three of them were getting on in years, and she nursed them all through ill health at various times when we weren’t around. But we were all together when we had to let first Jack, then a few months later Baddy, go. My sister and I were up together, and in turns, all night the night before Baddy left us.
It wasn’t long after my sister moved out to the city to share a house with friends that Bo made her not totally unexpected but sudden exit. It was awful news to break to my sister, and she was heartbroken that she hadn’t been there.
For years after she moved out, forgetting she had paid weekly board which we spent on hiring a cleaner to save all our sanities, my sister petitioned to pay every time we had breakfast, lunch, dinner or a coffee. I have to pay you back, were words that drove me crazy.
In time, our younger sister decided to spend a year living & working in the city, employed at the same firm as me, living with the other sister. It was then the elder of my younger two sisters was able to embrace the concept of pay it forward. She’s also the sister whose apartment the G.O. and I live in.
One of the great things about families is if you need somewhere to stay, they will find a bed for you… even if it is a fold-out couch in the living room, which is what we now currently have on offer in our two room city apartment. It’s surprising how many people take it up.
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Robert Frost