by Cath Barton
She was a particularly loveable baby. Of course you love all your children, don’t you, but Tina was one in a million. We called her that because she was so teeny. Born prematurely, she was so small that she would have fitted in my pocket. She had beautiful soft fluffy white hair when she was born, and unlike lots of children she never lost it. Stayed that beautiful white. Everyone loved her, but she was her own person from the start. Played with her brother and sister and always came to her mother, but other people tended to find her rather remote. When we had visitors she wouldn’t come and say hello, most of the time, and I swear that some people never believed we had three children.
Looking back, I’d say she was a happy baby. She was always our baby, though the other two weren’t much older. We never had to worry about her. When she left home she always came back to see her folks. Didn’t say much about her travels and we never knew exactly how far she went. What she saw would have filled books, for certain, but they remain unwritten.
Tina, I must tell you this, was wonderfully photogenic. My husband’s always teasing me about the number of pictures I took of her. I don’t know why, because I’m sure I took just as many of the other two. Having said that, she’s the one I would have put up for a fashion parade. Not that we were the sort of parents who would ever have done that. Downright exploitation it is. We were always agreed on that, thank goodness.
Anyway, we’re getting on now, and though it felt like Tina was still our baby girl, in actual fact she wasn’t that far behind us. You tend to forget, don’t you, when you get to our age, that your children aren’t spring chickens anymore, so to speak. But she seemed so very well. She was always very slender. We used to say: “You’re just a feather, Tina!” But I have to admit that she was losing weight, and her bones were beginning to stick out. I kept telling my husband, but he said: “She’s so well – stop worrying, woman.”
I did my best to put my worries out of my mind. We got on with our lives, the whole family. So it came as a big shock to find Tina that morning. Overnight, she’d gone from someone who, though thin, was still bouncy as anything, to a creature with no energy who could hardly stand. We got her an appointment straight away, but we could both see how serious it was. Turned out her kidneys were failing.
When you look up into the sky now there’s a new star in the firmament. Tina’s up there with Maj, Elsie and the little ones we found on holiday in Greece one year. All such lovely pussycats they were.
Cath Barton lives in Wales. You can read more of her work in various places on-line, including The Ear Hustler and The Lowestoft Chronicle.
#1 by Jeanette Cheezum on October 30, 2010 - 5:21 am
You love your children and always want the best for them. Anorexia is a horrible thing for the person and their family. This story tells how things happen right in front of a parents eyes, but not noticed before it’s too late. Very sad.
#2 by thepygmygiant on October 30, 2010 - 12:06 pm
There’s an unexpected interpretation! Did you read the last paragraph? Still, it’s great for a story to say something to the reader, even if it’s not what was intended…
#3 by Juliet Boyd on October 30, 2010 - 1:47 pm
I did think it was an animal from the start but I think it was written in a deliberately ambiguous way until the final paragraph. All animal lovers will recognise the feelings expressed in this.
#4 by Judy Adamson on October 30, 2010 - 2:58 pm
Another one with a twist in the tail – well done, Cath!
#5 by Gita on October 30, 2010 - 10:23 pm
You had me believing it was a human daughter until the very last. Mischievous girl, you.
I should have known when you mentioned the age difference and catching up. For me, that is the hardest part about loving cats or dogs. They are with us such a short time. Well done, Cath.
#6 by Jeanette Cheezum on October 31, 2010 - 1:52 am
Funny thing, we have girls here that sometimes are called pussycat. So it went right over my head. I’m sorry.