Micro-Story: Family

For something different, a small story. (I can understand that I’ve made a few questionable choices in how I have written this).


It was a chilly morning but the crisp weather was warm compared to the glaciers which moved slowly through her veins. She had made her emotions a block of ice, impenetrable and unyielding. Though she loved him, truly she did, she still had to leave. After 53 years of marriage it had just become too much. You could push a heavy load for only so long, and she had pushed it far beyond her capability. It was not defeat but the end of a heroic effort that could not be continued. He didn’t appreciate the struggle and hurt it was causing her. An injury sustained during the Vietnam War had robbed them of the children. Even still, they’d never been able to enjoy the freedom of independence that no children should bring. She could feel her husband’s eyes following her as he walked to the end of the driveway, saying nothing. They’d both said all they had to say and neither of them had been able to compromise. She knew he was hurting inside, beneath the stoic facade and she fought to maintain the same facade. She would not break down and relent. Not this time. She was finally thinking of herself, of escape. She focused on her movements, not her emotions, and carried her suitcase the final metres to the car idling on the road.

Her older brother stood on the other side of the car feeling awkward. He didn’t know where to look, much less what to do. There were no tears between his sisters and her husband; that made it almost worse. He couldn’t fault either of them and didn’t want to choose a side. He liked his brother-in-law, and though they’d lived a difficult life his brother-in-law had always cared for his sister well. When his sister called last night asking for a ride and a place to stay he had to help. She was going to ‘find her own place’ at the age of 70. The situation seemed so odd, so sad. Why was there a lump in his throat? He wished he was anywhere but here, participating in this sad event. He took the suitcase from his sister and heaved it into the boot. His sister, moved quickly to sit in the passenger side of the car. He looked at his brother-in-law with pursed lips and gave a sad wave goodbye. Surely they would still see each other, although it seemed likely it would be far less now.

“Goodbye,” her husband called. She pretended not to have heard him. He watched her sit in the car without so much as a look in his direction, her gaze now fixated out the windscreen. He wanted to go to her and beg but knew she wouldn’t listen. Communication between the two of them had been severed and the cost to re-establish it was one he couldn’t pay. He wanted to give her one last kiss or one last hug. He couldn’t bear it if she responded to the affection like a stone, like so many times in recent months. He had always worried, at the back of his mind, about how he might cope if she died before him. The grief would be too much. Never had he considered she might leave of her own volition before death came. He wondered if there had been anything more he could have said to make her stay. It was unlikely – they’d both talked so much over several years – and yet, he wished he found the words that made a difference. The difficulties of life had masked the beauty of their love in her eyes. The obligation was too heavy and it had never torn at his heart and soul so viciously as it did as his brother-in-law climbed into the car.

“Where is Aunty going?” his 45-year-old brother asked cheerfully from behind the safety of the fence. He smiled brightly with simple delight, “Are we still going to see the ducks today?”

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My Bio: In The Beginning

I shared recently that I like to know the backgrounds of the authors that I read. Here is my first contribution toward sharing my background.

Life Starts with a Miracle

Hi, My name is Ben Ezard, but it almost wasn’t.Profile pic - small

The first my parents knew of the pregnancy was when the doctor told them they had suffered an incomplete miscarriage (at 2 months). My mum had an ultrasound (prior to the dilation and curettage being scheduled) which proved I was very much alive.

At 15 weeks there was a major membrane rupture, leaving only about one cup of amniotic fluid. As my mum later wrote:

The doctor gave us the choice of returning home, which inevitably meant we would lose the baby, or stay in hospital to wait for it to abort anyway. It was implied there was a very, very slim chance of survival if I stayed.

The doctor informed my parents that even if I managed to live I would most likely be physically and cognitively disabled.

Just five days later:

By Friday my condition was so bad that the doctor could only shake his head when he examined me.  He expected the end to come within 24 hours, and I was prepared for it if it was to be.

The church rallied around my parents and prayed for me to be born healthy and alive; in direct contrast to the doctor’s 23 years of experience. My mum received an assurance from God, and clung to Psalm 139 that illustrates that God is intimately involved in the life of all.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-15)

From that Sunday, 15 weeks into pregnancy, my mum remained in  hospital for the duration of the pregnancy. In a beautiful display of love my dad visited her each day before and after work (about 160 visits), and my maternal grandmother cared for my older sisters during the week.

At 28 weeks I was done with the cramped conditions in mum’s uterus and made an early appearance. I was admitted to intensive care, and had five complete blood transfusions because both my red and white blood cells weren’t right. After six weeks I was allowed to go home.

Benjamin’s development showed he was not only slow because of prematurity, but he was also somewhat lazy.

Just after I turned one my parents were informed that I would need two minor and two major operations, which would be the first of 11.

At 15 months I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy (technically spastic quadraplegia because all four limbs are affected to a degree). My parents were informed that they would need to give me intensive long term physio.

I believe one of the main reasons Benjamin was healed this time was because the Lord hear the prayer of a little boy. “…help the doctor get it right this time because I’m tired of going to hospital.”

Whenever we saw the negative side of things Benjamin’s comment would always be… “we’ll have to ask God to make it right…”

Early Life

I consider myself incredibly blessed to have been born into a loving family. It is unlikely that without such dedicated parents I would have been so healthy and lived the life that I have. (Not to mention the excellent Australian public health care system).

1982-12 family - Copy
The obligatory family photo.

 

Another key aspect of my early life was seeing my parent’s faith expressed in every day living. Both of them served in our local church and our house was one of regular hospitality. For decades I was accustomed to seeing both parents spend time in the morning reading the Bible; prayer was common.

And so, based on the demonstration of their faith I accepted Jesus at the age of 9 (I think) and was baptised by my Dad in a half-rainwater tank outside of the church.

1987 fireman 1.png
Which male doesn’t like ‘fixing’ a fire? (Me: 6ish).

“God made me so I can make people happy.” Me, just before my 5th birthday.

I remember myself as a happy-go-lucky child, with a quick smile and sharing my Dad’s finely tuned (and somewhat unorthodox) sense of humour. If I was told I physically couldn’t do something, then I would make it my mission to prove them wrong. As my  mum recorded:

HIS CONFIDENCE is very high and he tries to persuade his Physio to play with him rather than work.  He is currently practising walking with sticks only, and doing extremely well, although somewhat slower.

Fast-forward a number of years and school challenged my positive outlook. As I grew older I began to realise that there were more activities that I couldn’t participate in. I longed to play football or basketball, and began to notice that the gap between my social standing and the ‘popular kids’ was growing into a chasm.

I remember struggling a lot emotionally and wanting to be ‘normal’. This was something that I would continue to work through for years…

(The end of this installment).

 

 

Character and Society Value Systems

If I had unlimited resources one of the things that I would like to do would be travel extensively. But when I say travel, I don’t mean visit: I would want to dig deeply. I’d want to literally live in a location for a year or two so that I could really get to know it.

Not having had that experience I’m aware that I have a very unary world view. I see things through my Western mindset, and don’t really appreciate that other people might see it differently.

I was reminded of this when recently I read…

In sub-Saharan Africa, relationship is such a highly regarded value that for many tribal Africans that value often takes precedence over truth – which most westerners usually consider the higher of the two values. That difference in perspective can create serious misunderstandings, unnecessary conflict and sometimes even tragic consequences. An African might choose to massage or shade the truth, or withhold important information, because he doesn’t want to cause offense. He might refuse to say something that others might not want to hear.
When that happens it would be easy for an American to see the African as deceitful and untrustworthy, even lacking in moral character. The African, however, might feel that he has actually demonstrated the highest integrity and trustworthiness by honoring what he has always been taught to believe was the most important cultural value. For him, consciously saying something that he feared could damage or strain a relationship would have been the far greater wrong. (Nik Ripken’s The Insanity of God, page 209)

When we are writing fiction it is important to really plumb the depth of our characters and societies to bring out diverse views and perspectives.  Part of what I find invigorating about writing is being able to take something which is ‘normal’ and turn it onto its head.

The Power of Thank You

“Thank You” are two words which when used sincerely can be powerful. When someone says “thank you” to us it means that they appreciate something that we have done, whether that be big or small. Conversely, when someone doesn’t say thank you I think it means that are either rude, taking our action for granted or both.

Being disabled and a commuter to work, I particularly appreciated a bus driver who was very considerate; pulling in perfectly to the curb to make getting on-and-off the bus easy. After several bus trips with this individual I came to know it was his consistent behaviour. So I wrote an email of gratitude and sent it to his employer.

The response I got was quite good in itself. Another staff member responded, thanking me for taking the time to give praise … it seems that most commuters only ever complain. We should be equally quick to praise as we are to complain. (And to be honest, I’m quicker at complaining myself…something to work on). I was told the driver was going to be given an award or certificate of gratitude.

Since that day, I have seen that bus driver many times, and now I get GOLD service from him. In the last few days – even as he has been driving a different bus and I have been waiting at the stop, each time we wave and smile to each other as he drives past. A little bit of gratitude can go a long way. A stranger can become a friend (* remember stranger danger still applies).

Being a Christian, I ascribe credit to every blessing as originating from God. Sometimes other people are involved, and they deserve to be thanked too. Living in a “first-world country” means that I have an incredible amount to be thankful for:

Even just this morning I have food to fill my belly and coffee to aid in the waking process. I am warm because I am in a house (and an incredibly big house by most of the world’s standards) and have ample clothing. I have electricity to light up the darkness and power my computer. I can read and write and use a computer fluently. In a short time I will have a hot shower in clean water and dress for work. I will then go outside knowing that I should be safe and catch reliable public transport. After today is over I will enjoy the blessing of a weekend in which I don’t have to work.

There are so many things to be thankful for.

We are each responsible for influencing our community; let’s make a positive influence.

Recommended Read: Gabrielle Giffords Shooting

Recently I downloaded True Crime by Lee Gutkind as a free-bee on GooglePlay. The book is a compilation of true stories from the different perspectives of perpetrators, victims, bystanders and affiliated individuals.

One of these stories which is worthy of special mention is Gabrielle Gifford’s Shooting: A Fatal Chain of Events Unfolds by Shaun McKinnon. After a quick google it looks like you can also read it online. It is well worth investing the 15 minutes or so it will take to read.

It is an emotional story told from the perspectives of many people caught in the maelstrom of violence. It tugs at the heart-strings as the reader is confronted by many aspects of humanity. I was reminded of humanity’s frailty; we should not take today or tomorrow for granted. Though gripped by a sense of sadness and loss, it is also heart-warming to see the strength of humanity as people cared for strangers or protected loved ones. Though the incident was terrible, it was a miracle more weren’t killed.

An excellent, emotive and informative piece of writing.

Disclosure: Shaun McKinnon did not pay me for my kind words, but he is welcome to.

What did you think of it?