This is me.
Updated: Mar 19, 2019
I am the man you walk past on the street. The curb hogger, taking up the path way with my electric scooter. I am the one who holds up the queue while you stand behind the long line, waiting to buy your milk, eggs and bread. That's me. you know the one. I do hear you sighing and muttering to those beside you. I can hear you.
Just to let you know I will be 92 this year. Another year. Things were different. Well I was different, younger, fitter, stronger.
Born during the war, it seems so long ago. Almost a lifetime but I am not quite there. Born in my parents’ house a little two up, two down. On the High Street over the way. I remember the stories my parents told me. I was a big baby, huge in fact 10lb 3, I almost killed my dear old mum, such a small petite, lady. I remember her telling me how she told the doctor “he will live in this house, so he will be born in this house”. Knowing my mum, I know exactly how she told him. She would have “told” him.
Dad worked as a farm hand and was exempt from the fighting as he was needed to produce the food. As a child of school age. I went to work with him on the farm. Dad worked for the farmer, till he died. Then I worked for his son. The farmer’s son, now the farmer himself. Milking two hundred head of cattle. That was work, real work. Early mornings, late nights. It took its toll on my back. I needed a change. It was time. Young family, wife and a small boy of my own.
Chain links, big and small, stop of at the pub for a swift cider and lunch. Then back to the mill, sparks and steel. The foreman used to bring all these posh ladies around to show off his foundry. I would see them coming from the end of the factory. I’d wait. I can wait. Working on the railway chain links on the biggest welding machine. I would wait, right until they came within reach. Clunk. The machine roared into motion, sparks arching across the workshop floor, in all directions. I could see the foreman’s looks as I heard the ladies squeal. I would do it every time, when will the boss learn.
Another twenty years crunching steel, the chain getting longer and longer each year.
I ended my career with a change of direction.
Spending my time with those of less fortune. Hope House, my eyes well up and the emotion is too hard to hide. A real man my father always told me to be, suck it up and get on with it. Maybe if he had seen what I had seen, he would have sung from a different hymn sheet. The caretaker to the center at first. Fixing faulty taps, broken sinks, bed rails that would squeak, drawers that wouldn’t close and wheelchairs with minds of their own. A long ten years, but a rewarding ten years.
The center a place for the terminally ill. Not the terminal ill due to age, but those sentenced to death by disease. Kids. Yes children. Boys and girls of a tender age. The things I saw should never be seen. The empty beds I had sat on the day before telling a short story of my own, to a small little lady not even half grown.
I had run, all my life, half marathons, marathons of all shapes and sizes. The little lads on the wards would love for me to go jogging pushing their wheel chairs along. I ran so much it is the reason I am in this wheel chair now. My knees give way, what can I say. I am stuck this electric seat, while I let others clean up my own shite. Pointing at the flowers, the birds and the trees as we glide through the woods on sturdy wheels. I loved every day of it and hated every night. I met some lovely kids and said good bye to many more.
I would never go back. Too many memories to count. The lives I had the privilege of reaching and the lives that touched me. Tears that will remain with me till the day I die, that may not be long.
I watched those young children wither away. The family’s reactions as they received the terminal diagnosis. I watched the fear creep into those young eyes, then the development of that final resignation. I cry as I speak of those joyful times, the sorrow, the laughter and final disaster. To watch those sweet things, travel to their final resting place and praying they find that well needed peace.
So yes, I am here in this chair, an electric wheel chair, when you stand and stare, I am aware.
I have a story, a life and some goals. This may be just a story, but it’s one of my own.
I sit at home waiting for the grand kids to arrive. To hear that car, pull up my drive. I pop to shops in between my lonely grand child vigils and toilet pit stops.
This is my story, just a small part of my picture.