the lizard

My brother and I arrived to find Mum with her pain under control: radiant with delight at the sight of us, quick to laugh, interested in everything. The palliative care room is beautiful, with a sofa for guests and a door onto a patio. We brought in the quilt that Mum’s friends at the Claypan made for her and it lights up the space.

We talked and talked.

Me: “I asked Dad what he liked most about the years you two were traveling, and he said: ‘Lizards.'”

We all fall about.

Big: “…although lizards are cool.”

Me: “They are!”

Sarah: “Remember the big goanna in Townsville?”

Mum: “With the plastic bag?”

Sarah: “That was amazing.”

Me: “I don’t know this story!”

Sarah: “This goanna – he was huge, like three or four feet long – apparently he hung around the picnic ground a lot, and the day we were there he turned up with a shopping bag wrapped around his head and caught in his jaw.

“So Dad lay down on the grass and the goanna, this wild goanna, it came up to him.

“Everyone in the picnic ground stopped talking. Dad carefully unwound the bag, and the goanna opened his mouth and let Dad lift it off his teeth. Everyone was staring. You could have heard a pin drop.”


Mum: “We were just caught up in the moment.”

Sarah: “This was before people had cameras all the time. The thing could have savaged Dad. I remember it as being four or five feet -”

Mum, laughing: “Not THAT big -”

Sarah: “No, but in my memory, it’s a Komodo dragon, you know, dripping blood off its teeth.”

Me: “With WINGS.”

Big: “Breathing FIRE.”

(Dad blogged it!)

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