Suddenly, the large country dining table was crowded with my two young Uncles, Nana, me, my cousins and my Pa. Sometimes other men would be there, men that worked around the farm or men that had come for Pa’s advice, but mostly it was just my family, Pa, Nana, the uncles and me. On this day, conversation flew all around me as I quietly waited just in case any of the adults wanted to address me. Often they didn’t and when this happened I imagined I was truly invisible. This was not a bad feeling, I had learned early that invisible children couldn’t be beaten. Although I was safe in this house that feeling of wanting to be invisible never left me.
Sometimes though, the conversation would include me.
“Micky-Lizzy what will you do today?”, my Pa asked me.
I shrugged and shook my head.
“Well now I’m going into town today and you will come with me.”
Startled I realised that he and I were going on an adventure without Nana. I looked at her for confirmation of this unusual arrangement and she smiled and nodded. I couldn’t remember the last time Pa had driven the ‘good’ car out to town, it was Nana who did the driving. Pa drove tractors or an old ute, not the ‘good’ car.
Breakfast finished, I cleaned my teeth and put on my shoes, taking care to check that the soles of each one were clean lest I mess up Nana’s floors. I picked up my small purse and slipped it into my pocket. The coins within the purse were a source of great pride. At 7 years old I was a “saver”. My sister was not a “saver”. It seemed to me that whenever we went somewhere together she would demand I pay. This was the case when we visited the zoo, wanting to ride the miniature train I had my fare of 20c but alas Louise did not. Without hesitation, I paid her fare too, but I did wonder if it was entirely equitable.
Arriving in town, Pa had grown up business to conduct and I silently followed him into the Stock and Station Agent and then to the bank. Each time I contented myself with being invisible. When we had finished Pa looked down at me and announced that we were going into the stationery shop, where I could buy gifts for my brother and sister since they weren’t lucky enough to be on holiday like me. Pa had an amazing superpower to read my mind, I thought as I felt the purse in my pocket.
Inside the stationery shop, there was a small selection of gifts and I carefully selected one for Louise and one for Paul. I took my time on each selection trying to find the ideal gift. On one shelf was a china Piggy Bank. It was pink, with a flower painted on the side. It reminded me of a book I had at home all about a Piggy Bank that sat on a shelf feeling invisible and useless. Eventually, the Piggy Bank discovered its true purpose when the child that owned it turned it upside down and cheerfully removed the coins he had been saving. Gazing at the Piggy Bank I wished I had more money so that I could buy it for myself.
Instead, I cheerfully passed over my coins to the shop assistant and completed my purchase. Behind me, Pa reached over and put that pretty china Piggy Bank on the shop counter. My eyes were wide with amazement as I watched the shop assistant carefully wrap the precious pig in tissue paper and place it into a paper bag. Pa completed his purchase before reaching down and looking me in the eye.
“You're a good girl Micky Lizzy, using all your money on presents for your brother and sister. This is for you - I think you know what it is for”, he said before ruffling my hair and taking my hand in his.
As we crossed the busy road to the car, I thought to myself how lucky I was to have my Pa and how glad I was that I wasn’t invisible to him.