Saturday, January 23, 2010

Everybody has a story to tell

Kay Henderson with Scallywag, Lakes Entrance 2010, photograph by Candice Herne

The relationship between Rhody, my son and Kay Henderson started at the gate of the garden that surrounded her caravan park shack. Our caravan backed on to her garden fence. Kay showed Rhody around her garden and told him all about her plants. A mutual love for gardens, slugs and worms developed over the two days that we stayed in the park and Rhody and Kay became best friends; pottering away in the garden, talking turkey.

I took so much delight over those days watching Rhody interact with this elderly lady; so interested, curious, and caring. It was magical to see such a bond ignite.

“I could have spent the next month with him.” Kay said. “You don’t want to leave him here?”

I don’t think she was joking.

Kay Henderson has lived in or near Lakes Entrance all her life. A mother of five children and 19 grand and great-grand children, Kay has lived in caravan for the past three years.
“I have another house,” she says.
“Do you rent it out?” I ask.
“No,” she said. “I also have a mobile home which is parked at a friends place. We are planning to travel.”
As she talks Kay sorts through brochures, booklets and flyers of tourist information she thinks I might need while visiting Victoria.
Kay shares her caravan palace with a gentleman, Spot and two dogs Scally Wag and Lady. When I first met Spot I asked if this was his wife’s or Mother’s home. I couldn’t clearly tell if he was related to Kay in some way, as he appears to be considerably younger than her. Spot was once a Truck driver – it was the many large photographs of trucks in the home that triggered my curiosity, so I asked about them. He said he drove years ago and loved it. As the conversation flowed, I quizzed Kay about their relationship and she answered amusingly that they were still trying to work that one out.
“We look after each other when we are ill,” she said. “Spot has had a few heart attacks and now starts his day with the dogs taking him for a walk down the beach.”
That’s all she said.
It still left me wondering. However later down the track when I got out my camera to take some pictures Spot commented that he might give her a little cuddle. May be she is a cougar after all?
Kay breeds tiger slugs and has a worm farm in her living room.
She proudly showed us her tiger slug collection of five years. She pats them adoringly and tells me they eat the snails that eat the orchids.
“Do you have orchids?” I ask.
“No,” she says. “Just the tiger slugs.”
Her passion for wildlife doesn’t end there. On one side of the house she has bird feeders, which the local pink and grey galahs seem to visit en-masse regularly. She says she can just about tame any animal; although she hasn’t yet been able to tame a Tasmanian Devil. I smile and nod. She tells me stories about the once baby lizards under her house that are now quite big and how she has trained them.
“I’ve been feeding them snails and now when they want more food they put out empty snail shells for me.”

Kay shows me around her garden, sprouting out all the names like she is on a Gardening Australia quiz show.
“You know my friends and I raised $70,000 for the RSPCA to build a cattery here in Lakes Entrance. And we still haven’t got a cattery and we don’t know where the money is. I potted plants and sold them one of my friends complains that the plant I sold her didn’t grow. She even put blood and bone on it.” I smile and nod.
She fondly recalls the time her son rode his bike to school only to stop on the way to pick up a turtle with a cracked shell. She asks, “Do you know the best way to fix a Turtle’s cracked shell?”
“No not yet, please tell me”, I say.
“Fill the crack with tacky candle wax. Then the shell can grow back together.” – (I know nothing about veterinary science, so please speak to your vet before you try this one at home!)
She said that it happened quite a bit and she ended up having a pond full of turtles with waxy cracks.
At the end of two days our brief encounter was over and it was time to go and put ourselves out in the world for another adventure to find us. Spot and Kay were quite sad that we were leaving and often said how much they were going to miss Rhody.
As a Mother I wish for my children to have special bonds with people who are as interested in life and the living as Kay is; someone who is not bothered by children’s enquiring minds, hundreds of questions, and cheeky hands and fingers wanting to touch everything; someone who is gentle, patient and firm and who understands they are vulnerable little souls eager to explore the world around them. That’s my wish as a mother.


Nicola Moss said...

Wonderful photo Candice, and what a story. Sometimes it just clicks when we meet people, even when young, what a great experience.

Lee said...

this story is a delight to read. I adore the bond that can develope between the aged and very young. It has something of the magical in it. What a couple of characters.