Cate Thomas 30/365

Cate rings me. We have already arranged a time and I think she’d like to give my phone bill a break. I delight at the sound the ringing. She tells me she is scared. Cate, scared! And then she reminds me that she is shy.

As the days and blog posts begin to mount up, Cate had started to worry that she would be lost in the hundreds. Even coming in at 30/365 she wonders if that is something to be proud of. I think I need to talk to all of my ‘Tangible Allis’ Facebook friends about this. The order that you appear in does not correlate with how dear you are to me. Adrian Marriner 1/365 is not Numero Uno in my life (sorry, Adrian) and Stuart Fleming, who has asked to be 365th is not my least favourite person. This is not a pop chart of favourite friends. I might also take this moment to say that this blog is highly likely to overrun the allotted year. Does anyone have an issue with that? Adrian, as my appointed Blog God, do you? I am finding the phone calls fascinating and the blog posts mesmerising and I have to give them time.

Now, when it comes to whom I call, when, something about you on Facebook might catch my eye and next thing we’re talking like we last did in 1979.

Cate posted a link about a Chinese man who had been trapped in a collapsed mine for 17 years and had just been found. It reminded me of her optimism, I messaged her and here we are at 8pm.

Cate looks a little like both Liz Hurley and my sister, defying the clock. She called me when she was working in the Neighbourhood House, here in Apollo Bay. ‘Would I be interested in running a writer’s course?’

When I went in to meet her she was wearing a beautiful black dress and high heels as if she was about to be asked to dance. I quickly told her I was pregnant. I was and I didn’t want her to think I’d eaten all the pies, although I had (with Coke, and cake.)

The next time I saw her she was in a wetsuit effortlessly gliding along the waves on her board. It was then that I realised that I was living in an Australian mini-series.

When Martin and I decided that the time had come to sell our other baby, ‘The Aire Valley Guest house’, Cate went into super hero real estate agent mode, as is her job now. I remember that she walked into the house, picked up a brush, swept the floor and sold it.

This meant that when we went back to England to bury my Dad’s ashes, we were able to tow caravan from old car and visit eleven European countries in seven months. We had such a good time that by the end of it we were able to recognise each other’s Uno cards from the scratches on the back.

Cate is very well travelled, particularly in South East Asia and is training to be a yoga teacher. She grew up in a big family of four kids. She was particularly close to her older brother Paul (Possum). He was a policeman and a climber and he doted on his smallest sister. Once, when they were young, he took her on the tram in Melbourne and she remembers slipping a plastic ring onto her ring finger, just to let all the other girls know that they were married. She was only five!

When we moved to this area, people were still coming to terms with the loss of Paul. His heart had given way when he was 500 metres from the summit of Mt Chooyu in Tibet. Former Police chief Christine Nixon had moved mountains to get a Russian helicopter into Tibet via China to bring Possum home.

Cate takes Tibetan prayer flags to his grave here in Apollo Bay. As they disintegrate, the threads take the prayers to heaven. His headstone reads ‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.’

At the bakery this morning Stuart Fleming (you know 365/365) asked whether there was a common theme running through my phone conversations. ‘Death appears a lot’ I said, ‘and love.’

Cate has been married (to the same person) for 21 years. He’s Kris with a K, she’s Cate with a C. It was a whirlwind from engagement to wedding and when it came to organising the big day, Cate didn’t know what she wanted and didn’t know what she didn’t want either. ‘What colour flowers would you like? What colour bows on the flowers would you like?’

‘Oh I don’t know,’ Cate remembers saying, ‘whatever you like.’

Cate clearly had bigger things to think about

I’m so glad that when I made the outrageous suggestion that I was thinking of ringing every friend on my Facebook list over the course of a year Cate said ‘Do it, blog it.’

And here we are.

cate thomas
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