C is for Challenge

April 3, 2014 at 10:47 am | Posted in Family, Family History, Mental Health, Ways of Living | 24 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

Warning sign -challenges ahead

Dad was always up for a challenge. Tell him he wasn’t up to doing something and he would make sure he did it, just to show he could.

In 1925, Dad turned four. During that year, he contracted pneumonia in both lungs and became gravely ill. He was nursed at home by his mother, there being limited hospital facilities at that time.

Sick child& teddy

One day, two of his aunts visited the bedroom where he lay. When they left, Dad heard one of them say to his mother,

“Oh Hannah, pray for the Lord to take him”.

When they left, his mother returned and knelt beside Dad’s bed. He felt a tear fall on his hand and looked up at his mother.

“Don’t worry, Mother,” he said. “I’m not going to die.”

It took a couple of months, but Dad recovered and became a very active, energetic lad.

In 1954 we came to Australia, where we lived in the Illawarra area of  NSW. In 1961,  almost the last polio epidemic raged through the district. My little brother, then my older sister, then Dad contracted the disease. Dad was the worst affected and doctors wanted to put him in an iron lung so he could keep breathing.

Iron-Lung

He refused to let them and gained their agreement that, if he survived the night, he wouldn’t have to go into one.

“I wasn’t going to live the rest of my life in an iron lung,” he later told me. “What kind of life is that?”

Old wheelchair

He lived. However, a specialist told him he would never walk again and that he was to remain in bed or, at best, in a wheelchair. Dad wouldn’t have that. A friend drove him to an appointment with the specialist one day and Dad walked into his rooms on crutches. The doctor became angry and said, “If you won’t do as you’re told, I wash my hands of you”.

Dad went to another doctor, who organised a body brace and full leg caliper for him (both made of steel and leather) so he could walk more easily. A friend also made him steel crutches.

Dad made an amazing recovery, forcing his muscles to do what he wanted of them. He had been a concreting contractor in the building industry – heavy labour. Within less than two years, still in his steel supports,  he was at work making moulds for  concrete columns, balustrades and stepping stones. As he got stronger, he was making them from concrete. Soon,  could do without braces at all.

Balustrades

In 2008, at the age of 86, Dad suffered a perforated bowel during a colonoscopy. He was operated on, but acquired almost every infection possible, including septicaemia, peritonitis and bi-lateral pneumonia. He became incoherent and suffered at least two heart attacks. He’d never had any heart problems before, but the massive infections were too much.

Medical staff said he wouldn’t make it and our family maintained a bedside vigil day and night. Dad turned 87 during this time. One day, when we were all gathered around his bed – he was virtually comatose, my sister softly told him “You can go now if you like Dad. You can go and be with Mum.”

Somehow, that message got through. However, it didn’t have the effect my sister expected. Over the next week, Dad rallied. He amazed the doctors, one of whom called him “my miracle patient”.

“Nobody’s going to tell me I can go to your mum,” he told me later. “It’s not time for me to die yet. I’ve too much to do.”

Dad in rehab, 2 weeks after leaving Intensive Care.

Dad in rehab, 2 weeks after leaving Intensive Care.

Dad went on to rehab and then home, where he lived alone (with family help) for another five years. He fell one night as he was going to the bathroom and broke his hip. He died six weeks later, just six days before his 92nd birthday. He had tried to rise to this challenge too, positive as  always, but it was the final one, the one he couldn’t win.

He is my inspiration. Ernest Thompson, 1921-2013

 

How do you respond to challenges? Do you quail, or do you step up and meet them with determination? Do you have someone to whom you look up in times of personal challenge?

 

© Linda Visman 03.04.14

 

B is for Butcher and Bicycle

April 2, 2014 at 11:59 am | Posted in Family, Family History, History, Ways of Living, Writing and Life | 15 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

Dad left school in early 1935 at the age of thirteen and a half. He was on his way home from school when he saw a notice in the window of a butcher’s shop in his home town of Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, England. The notice said “Boy Wanted”.

DSCF8547

He went into the shop and the butcher said, “Yes, son. What can I do for you?”

“It’s not what I can do for you, sir. You have a sign that says ‘Boy Wanted’. I’m a boy and I want a job.”

The butcher was impressed with Dad’s attitude and said that, if he was available and if his parents agreed, he could start the next day. He never returned to school, and went to work for the butcher six days a week, taking orders and delivering them by heavy bicycle to the local farms and villages, over rough roads and hilly country, in sunshine, sleet and snow.

Butcher's shop 1920s

Dad handed all his earnings to his mother to go towards feeding the family, but he was allowed to keep sixpence a week.

A few months later, Dad decided he wanted his own bicycle. He approached the owner of the local bike shop and asked if he could purchase a fixed-wheel bike (their cheapest) for sixpence down and sixpence a week.1909_Royal_Enfield_bike

When the owner found that Dad had a regular job, he agreed to the terms Dad had stated. Dad paid his sixpence religiously every week. By the time he moved on to an apprenticeship as a moulder at age fourteen, he had fully paid for the bike.

During the warmer days of the northern England summer weekends, Dad rode that bike, then a better one he bought later, over many miles of countryside. He would take some bread and meat, or bacon and eggs, and camp overnight by a brook, sleeping on a tarpaulin and wrapped in a blanket.

He said that those weekends were wonderful for a teenage lad with a sense of adventure, and regretted that the freedom he had then has now been lost.

Young man with bike 1920s

The story of the butcher and of the bicycle shows how Dad exhibited initiative and determination from an early age. He kept both of those qualities all his life.

 

Do you think youngsters show enough initiative and determination these days? Do you think they have lost many of the opportunities that once existed for youngsters with such qualities?

 

© Linda Visman 02.04.14

A is for Alphabet

April 1, 2014 at 9:02 pm | Posted in Family, Family History, History, Writing and Life | 8 Comments
Tags: , , ,

 

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

I have joined the 2014 April A to Z Challenge. To complete the challenge, I must write 26 posts, each on a topic beginning with a letter of the alphabet, beginning on the 1st of April with A and ending on the 30th of April with Z. There are four Sundays in April, and these are ‘days off’, so the challenge fits well into the month. Here is my first post, and what topic would be more fitting that the alphabet?

Alphabet B&W Ravie

When I was still in the middle years of primary school, I heard my mother saying the alphabet backwards. I thought that was so amazing that I had to learn to do it too.

I can’t remember how long it took me to get it right and to be able to do it time after time, but it is something I have been able to do ever since.

Dad told me how he learned to do it when he was a young child too. He was visiting his aunt and uncle one day, and his uncle asked him if he could say his alphabet backwards, adding that every child should be able to do it. He showed Dad a shiny sixpence and told him that if he could come back and recite the backwards alphabet, he could have that sixpence.

Photo thanks to Wikihow

Photo thanks to Wikihow

In those days, the 1920s, sixpence was a lot of money, especially for a poor working man’s son. Highly motivated by the challenge, Dad spent the rest of the two hour visit to his aunt and uncle’s house teaching himself how to do it. Before he left to go home with his parents, Dad gleefully received the sixpence from his surprised uncle. He had met the challenge.

It might not be a big thing to say the alphabet backwards, but I am constantly surprised by how many people never even thought to learn how to do it. And I constantly surprise them by rattling it off in one breath.

Just as Dad met the challenge of learning to go backwards from Z to A, I intend to meet this challenge of writing a blog post for each letter, A to Z.

Photo thanks to Wikihow.

Photo thanks to Wikihow.

Can you say the alphabet backwards? Do you think it is an unusual skill?

 

© Linda Visman

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

Helen Armstrong - writing on the move

I write when I travel but not always about travelling. It doesn't have to be a quiet corner...

Rosella Room

Socio-cultural comment on a range of issues, including literature, music and mental health

Myricopia

Exploring the Past to Improve the Future

Foxgloves and Bumblebees

A Nature Journal

L.T. Garvin

Eclectic blog: short fiction, poetry, humor, occasional dreams and wild book schemes.

Echidna Tracks

Australian Haiku

irevuo

art. popular since 10,000 BC

Colleen M. Chesebro

Novelist, Prose Metrist, & Word Witch

sketchings

Thel's Sketchings: Art, Photography, Musings & Short Stories

Learn Fun Facts

An Archive of Curious Facts for the Curious

backstorypress.com

A blog about writing and reading

roughwighting

Life in a flash - a weekly writing blog

Half Baked In Paradise

Searching, settling, sauteeing and spritzing

The Curry Apple Orchard

A blog designed to remember the past and celebrate the present.

barsetshirediaries

A site for the Barsetshire Diaries Books and others

Cee's Photo Challenges

Teaching the art of composition for photography.

Leigh Warren :: Country Music Outlaw

The ramblings of Leigh Warren about himself, country music and maybe... well who knows

Diane Tibert

~ writer -