Growing up in the Oldershaw household was, to put it mildly, interesting. There was always something going on – at times it felt like there were sixty people living in the house rather than six. Who knows what it would have been like if a dog had been added to the equation. We have tried our hand at various other pet responsibilities over the years though, from Eddie the cat (of whom I have fond albeit vague memories) to the dozen or so guinea pigs we’ve kept in the last decade.
Our guinea pigs have become rather notorious throughout the village. People walking past often knock on the door to ask “did you realise there are animals running around in your garden?” It usually comes as a quite a shock to them that, yes we do, we have free-range guinea pigs. If only they knew about the accidental free-range stick insects palaver, being hermaphrodites and all that, now that was something else.
While I grew up with guinea pigs and stick insects scurrying and scuttling around, I never had a pet to call my own. The most recent addition to the Oldershaw clan is mine, all mine, and so I thought I would share the story of how this came to be.
Today it is three years since I finally left hospital, once and for all. After making good progress my discharge date was revised to mid-December, having originally been told that I wouldn’t be out before Christmas. This, however, would still not do. My mum and I have birthdays just before then: it was imperative that I was home in time. I am not sure if this is a brain injury developed trait or something I had before, but my determination to overcome adversity is something that has got me to where I am today. When I make my mind up to do something I will do it, no matter what, so, of course I made it home for my birthday.
During my recovery, I seemed to regress to childhood behaviours in some ways, as well as showing several characteristics associated with autism. Occasionally this worked in my favour. Rather than subtly asking if there was any possibility of having a pet, I would constantly remind everyone that came to visit that I wanted a silver tabby girl kitten for my birthday, I would even draw pictures and point, leaving no one in any doubt that this was a necessity.
Then the day came, the day I was finally discharged from hospital, a mere six months after my first admission. I have only one memory of this day. I walked up the driveway for the first time in half a year and saw a sign taped to the door: “Beware, new kitten”. And there he was, a tabby boy kitten, not the silver girl I wanted, but it didn’t matter, he was mine, Buttons.
Since the Oldershaw household’s human contingent is now somewhat depleted, he is the perfect addition to the family. Every time I look at Buttons I see just how far I’ve come. Every time he grows, I see how much I have grown, from a fragile kitten to a strong-minded cat. Whilst I realise I still have a long way to go, I am thoroughly determined to overcome everything that is put in my path along the way.