Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Man With The Walker

The Man With The WalkerMargaret opened the oven and was dismayed at the look of the potatoes. She had left them in longer than she thought and they were burnt. She so wanted to make an impression on the friends who were coming to lunch in half and hour and she couldn’t even get baked potatoes right. ‘Never mind she though to herself. I’ll boil some, toss them in butter and that will do’.

Margaret was a fine cook. Normally baked potatoes were a snack. Not today. Why had she become so distracted? Maybe she had spent too much time next door with the neighbour and her new baby. Or maybe she had talked for half an hour on the phone to her cousin, or maybe it was because she woke up late – again.

She couldn’t second guess anything these days. Last week she had met up with an old school friend, Anna, in a cafe in a nearby shopping centre who told her a story and it was this story that she could not stop thinking about.

Anna had told her that right there in that very same centre only last week she had prevented an elderly gentleman from falling over. She had been watching him push his walker along a little unsteadily when she saw him tread on some plastic and start to lose his footing. Quick thinking on her part saved the day – and him. He was so grateful he took her for coffee and tried to give her something for helping him. Anna refused of course and as they parted he shoved something into her hand and it was a lotto ticket. She could see he wanted her to take it so she kindly accepted his generosity. The ticket won $450,00 in the next nights lotto and it was an unregistered ticket.

Anna said she scoured the centre for days looking for the old man, but never found him. She would sit on a seat for hours each day and look out for men with walkers, but to no avail. She was flabbergasted that from one kind act she had been given all this money, yet she felt she wanted to give it all the the gentleman, or at least share it.  This experience weighed on her heavily and she did not know what to do. She told Margaret she was going to put the money in the bank and go about her life and keep looking for the man with the walker.

Over baked lamb and boiled potatoes Margaret recounted the story to her friends and their response was to say things like ‘Anna should keep it, after all he did give her the ticket!’ Except Geraldine, who as soon as Margaret had finished the story exclaimed, “That’s my father! He told me all about it. He didn’t know his lotto ticket had won all that money! He was so grateful to that woman who had stopped him from being badly hurt, he wanted to give her something as a thank you. Oh my goodness, that’s amazing”!

The others were mute. ‘I’m sorry’, they said, ‘Of course maybe they could share it’. One said, ‘I’m so sorry for rushing to an opinion, it’s not for me to say, its none of my business”.

And Margaret looked at Geraldine and said to her – ‘I will arrange it. I will ask Anna to be at the coffee shop next week. Do you think your father will come?”

‘Yes’, said Geraldine, ‘I’ll make sure of it!”

 

Pullman And The Rental Cars

pullman 2Pullman rented the best car he could on his meagre wage from the sports store. It wasn’t unusual for him to do this. The last time was when he took his dear mother Agnes out for a whirl. She had a penchant for fast cars and yes, believe it or not, even faster women.

Agnes had discovered this about herself when Pullman and was twenty six and she was fifty. ‘A  new half century coming my way’, she said at the time and heck, did she prove everybody right!

But I digress. Pullman wanted to please his mother, see her happy. They had a fantastic relationship only he kept his girlfriends away from his Mum. Not that he didn’t trust his girlfriends, but really, when he was not yet ready to settle down himself, he just wasn’t going to go there. He quite frankly didn’t trust his Mum and the girls he went out with, well, maybe they were wanting a good time too.

Hence the car. Cars. The ladies loved them. This time it was a 1968 SL Mercedes classic sport car.  Cream, leather seats, two seater. Beautiful. And a joy to drive.

Even though he loved his rentals his own car was a Toyota Corolla – just a basic model to get him from A to B.

But when he hopped into that rental his world changed – and he came alive!.

Dad had been a motor mechanic and instilled in him his love of cars – but the nice, expensive ones. He’d take his boy to all the car shows and occasional races and they bonded in this way for many years. Sadly, his Dad passed away from a heart attack at fifty-nine.

Then Agnes let fly. She was ‘out’ and he just had to accept it – and he did. He loved his Mum.

Anyway, today was different. He was on his own and he knew this was the last time he was going to do this – rent a fancy car and take it for a spin.

Last spring he went to Thailand and there he saw poverty like he had never seen it before. So the money for his jolly jaunts was going to go to a girls orphanage in Thailand instead. He felt good about it – very good. Maybe he might spend more time over there anyway. He’d get work and nothing would change except he would be there, not here.

As he drove the car back into the rental depot he was surprised to find his mother waiting for him and with her was a ‘little princess’ – the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. He fell in love at first sight.

But this was Mum’s girl. What was he to do?

He did nothing. He went for coffee with them and wished them all the best on their journey together. They were obviously in love.

And he went home and cried. The next day he quit his job and left for places unknown. And his mother never saw him again.

Annie and the Little White Flowers

Annie and the little white flowersAnnie had woken up early with things on her mind and was out of sorts. She didn’t know what it was that was disturbing her usual happy state of being, but there it was. She made herself a cup of tea and some toast with butter and honey and after she finished her breakfast she gently opened the back door and entered her small courtyard garden. It had been daylight for about twenty minutes and she loved her garden at this time of the day. It was so quiet and peaceful. She looked around at what she had spent so much time in over the years and without thinking she bent over and picked an exquisite, little, white flower from the bed closest to the back door.

The natural world, particularly anything to do with plants and trees, made Annie feel grounded and calm, and it was what she needed today. Something from the earth she could focus on that would take her mind off things. There were too many problems in the family that she couldn’t fix.

Annie was enjoying herself out in the garden, so she picked a few more flowers. She purposefully took her time in selecting each individual one and after she had been there for about three minutes she found she was not thinking with her mind anymore, she was so engrossed in the flowers. A little saying came to her, one that she heard on the television a long time ago, ‘You’ll feel better on the inside when you’re outside’. ‘I know its true’, she thought to herself. ‘I’ve just experienced it’.

She went back inside the house, found a suitable vase (the little blue one she inherited from her grandmother) and arranged the flowers in it. Then she placed the vase in a spot where she would see it all day, and that was in the centre of her dining table.

As the day went on she looked at those pretty, little, white flowers on the table and as she did she re-connected with the beautiful energy of nature, of life, of exuberance, all of the qualities that the flowers were showing her.

I’m beautiful
I’m open
I’m being me
I’m here right now
I’m with others just like me

And by the time her daughters and their families came to dinner that night she was much more at peace with herself and the world. She had settled down into her natural, normal, self. Preparing the meal had been easy and it was a lovely family get together. She was able to fully engage with and enjoy the grandchildren and even make a few jokes with the girls.

As she turned off the light in the dining room before she went to bed, she looked at the little white flowers in the blue vase back in their spot on the dining room table.

‘So simple’, she thought to herself, ‘What a tonic for my soul. I will try and remember to get out outside into nature much more often’.

On The Beach – by guest contributor Bob Passier

On the BeachBob Passier and I live in the same suburb and regularly meet in a local cafe to discuss what is happening in our lives and the world. He is a wonderful storyteller.

This is the first of many stories he is going to share here with you, as a guest contributor.

On the Beach

It really doesn’t get much better than this.

It’s one of those beautiful early autumn afternoons that Sydney turns on for us almost every year. The sun was shining down from the clear blue sky bathing the world (or at least my bit of it) in a warmth which made me feel content with my lot in life. Not a breath of breeze. You know that winter is trying to sneak in, but it hasn’t been successful. At least not yet. Its turn will come soon enough.

In the meantime it’s the sort of afternoon that is ideal for doing just what I’m doing. I’m enjoying short swims – only short ones because the water, unlike the air is starting to lose its summer warm and while it’s great to be in, after a while it does start to get a bit cool for comfort. 

When I get cool, I do what the lizards do. I retreat to a suitable warm surface, the sand, a grassy knoll, or even the right sort of rock and I sit or lay there until the sun has done its bit and I’m enjoying the warmth again. 

The beach is sparsely populated today. That’s most likely because it’s Wednesday, and most of the working population are doing just that – working. I’m a bit lucky. Things at work have been pretty hectic lately. We’re a small but very vibrant outfit with a culture of everybody just picking up and doing what needs to be done and nobody carrying on with the  “It’s not my job” rubbish. I’ve been putting in a lot of extra effort over the last few weeks because things have been so busy that I’ve been working all hours just to get it all done. Truth be told, some of my motivation is that I’m just a tiny bit in love with my boss and I love to please her. She, of course is madly in love with her husband of twelve years and she’s more than a little fond of their three children.

Speaking of the boss, you could have knocked me over with a feather when at about 12.30 she told me all of my extra effort was much appreciated and that I should take $50 out of the petty cash tin and have the rest of the day off. Wow! Let me tell you, there aren’t too many like her around.

I couldn’t think of a better way of using the afternoon than spending it on Camp Cove beach. 

Two or three hours of Camp Coving and I’ll be ready for a couple of drinks at the Watson’s Bay Hotel courtesy of the boss, maybe some of their famous fish and chips and then an early night.

Camp Cove is a harbour beach and the water is very user friendly for those of us who don’t particularly like battling big (or small) surf. From the beach you can take in the activity on the harbour: the sailing boats with their spinnakers up battling it out in the regular Wednesday races from the Cruising Yacht Club; The odd luxury cruiser with the champagne set on board, their body language saying “Look at me, Look at me”. A couple of jet skis (didn’t think they were allowed in the harbour any more) making more noise than they ought to and giving the fishermen in their tinnies apoplexy.  There’s also the interesting boats: the working boats, the pilot boats, occasionally a cruise ship. There was a time when you would see cargo ships on a regular basis.

The container ships and the car carriers became a thing of the past when the government of the day decided they were too tacky to be seen by the waterfront residents so they were sent  packing  off to Botany Bay. The public disagreed and made a fair bit on noise about it. Many of us enjoyed watching the comings and goings of the working harbour which had been just that since the arrival of the first fleet. But when did governments care about what the public thinks.

I was into what I thought should be my last lizard imitation before heading to the pub when it became apparent that I had drifted off to sleep thinking of all theses things. I don’t know if it was because somebody had moved the nearby tree which was now shading me from the slowly weakening sun, or whether it was what sounded like a cry of distress which brought me out of my reverie and back to full attention.

It only took a moment to realize that there were only two people left at the beach. One of them was me. The other was a female in the water some way down the beach who was frantically waving something white.

I headed down the beach and as I came near to her she stopped waving frantically and put her white bikini top back where it belonged. She shouted to me to please not come any closer because she had lost her bikini bottom and would I bring her her towel.

Of course I would. And I did. More to the point I took a lot of trouble to ensure that I did it in a most gentlemanly manner so that her modesty was preserved.  She said thank you, I said you’re welcome and returned to my nest. It was time to pack it up and have that couple of drinks.

As I was doing so, she came up to thank me. If there was such a thing as love at first sight then this was it. Black hair, olive skin. I couldn’t tell much about the figure underneath the long flowing beach dress which I believe is was known as a caftan. It was the eyes that really did it. Blue green and sparkling in a way that said to the world, “I’m a girl who loves life. Come and enjoy it with me”.

I told her I was going for a beer and would she like one. She said that the least she could do would be to buy me one. I said that if she bought a beer I had a lazy fifty which would take care of some fish and chips. She said “sounds great”.

“And that, my dear children is how I met your mother”.

Helicopters in Heaven

Helicopters in heavenI held my five year old daughter’s little hand and together we cried as we watched the helicopter rise steadily into the sky. My wife Edith had died moments before the Care Flight crew had arrived to transport her to a scheduled medical appointment in the city an hours flying time away. She was so ill that traveling a long distance in a car was now too much for her as we lived in a remote town in the outback. Hence the helicopter.

Soon the helicopter was out of sight and Ruby and I were left together, alone.

My mind was racing, and I knew it would not be long before it would begin to shut down from the grief. As I stood there I found myself thinking  about the events of last night. At about five o’clock in the afternoon the severity of Edith’s illness was too much for me and I sat on the verandah and had a few drinks to drown my sorrows. I knew it would not really help anything, but at least with a few drinks in me I thought I could cope a bit better. When I went inside I took one look at Ruby and could not bear to tell her that her mother was about to die so I packed her off to bed early. She didn’t understand but she did as she was told.

I had gone in to see Edith and she was too sick to be cross with me. I asked her if she would like me to say a little prayer with her. “Yes, please darling’, she said. So we prayed to whoever was listening because we really didn’t know who it was, or what it was out there that seemed to have this all sorted. We thought it was something greater than ourselves, so we trusted in that and prayed.

Then we saw Ruby standing in the doorway. She had been listening to us and asked if she could get into bed with her mother. Edith smiled at her and said, “Yes, darling, hop up on here and give me a cuddle’. And we were together like that as a little family for half and hour or so until Ruby toddled back off to bed again.

That was last night, but now as we watched the helicopter rise up into the sky, Ruby finally spoke to me and said,  ‘Dad I think there must be helicopters in heaven, because they just took Mum there in one’.

And I cried ever harder.

The Feather

The FeatherSoftly, gently, slowly, the feather fell through the air and hit the ground without a sound.

No one in the world heard it. No one saw it. But it was there. Glowing brightly in the dim light of that day.

You could hear a pin drop in the forest at that moment, but not a feather. 

In  a flash the feather had transformed into something else. Something she could hardly bear to look at. She stared at the Angel before her and dropped her backpack and could not move.

Had the Angel seen her? Did it know she was there? Could she hide?

The Angel did not move either. It stayed in the same place, shining.

It was too much for Elspeth. She started to cry. And as her tears fell down her cheeks she noticed they turned to tiny drops of warm, liquid gold and they pooled into her hands which she formed into a cup to catch them.

‘Do not be afraid’, said the Angel.

‘That’s easier said than done’,  Elspeth said in her mind.

And the Angel replied, ‘Do not be afraid. I am not here to harm you but to help you. I am the Angel of Faith’.

‘What do you want from me?’ she said out loud.

‘Nothing Dear One. Only that you have some faith around things you don’t know, can’t know about. Heaven has it all sorted you know. Now go on your way and don’t forget to have a little faith’.

And the Angel disappeared and all that was left was the feather on the ground again.

‘How can I bring faith into my life?’ she thought.

She had no idea. But she had faith enough to try. And courage. She had a lot of courage.

And carrying the gold that she had found within her, she walked out of the deep, dark forest into the light.

The Potato Cake Rider

UntitledThe Potato Cake RiderIt was a dusty day when the big truck with potatoes rolled into the small outback town. The little boys had just finished playing their tenth game of marbles. Jack always won and no matter how many games they played neither Bill nor Greg nor Andy could beat him. Jack was like that. Some called him lucky. Some called him a cheat.

One thing about Jack though, he was a brave boy. When he was five he rescued his little sister from a rather angry stream down the back.

But today was not about Jack. It was about Mr Prideau. Mr Prideau owned the potato farm. Acres and acres of potatoes and they were all now ready to eat so they had to be dug, by hand, from the ground. By hand? Well, if you were a boy of ten and came from a poor family – yes, by hand. That was the deal. Mr and Mrs Prideau  had let it be known that anyone around who were ‘poor’ could help themselves to potatoes – but they had to dig them up themselves.

“Not a problem”. Jack’s Dad said, “Let’s go. Ready son?” “Ready Dad!” And off they went.

Usually Mrs Prideau had some of her potato cakes on the porch for them too. Sometimes she added thyme, sometimes onions. Simply delicious.

Now it happened the Prideaux were not quite who everyone thought they were. Kind – yes. Honest – yes. Hiding a secret – yes, that too.

What was it? It was simple. With every potato cake Mrs Prideau made came a rider – something that was a pre-requisite you had to do to get it – and it was to help Mr Prideau in the yard for ten minutes each time they came to dig.

That’s what Jack was doing when he heard the old man’s screams. Agonising, below the belt bellows of screams. He ran to the old man and found him leaning over his wife who lay motionless on the ground. She wasn’t dead, but close. She had slipped, fallen and knocked her head and it was bleeding, badly.

Quick as a flash Jack ran to the phone on the wall in the kitchen and rang the operator.

Help came quickly. But in the meantime Jack’s job seemed to be to calm the situation down. He did so by telling Mrs Prideau how he loved her potato cakes, how they melted in his mouth, how he had never tasted anything so beautiful in his life.

She smiled a faint smile and knew she would be okay.

A week after she was home from hospital, the Prideaux removed the potato cake rider and doubled the potato cakes for every family who came to dig.

Jack never cheated at marbles again. Folks had called him brave and folks had called him good and he liked it. It felt right.

And so it was that he set an example to all the others who came to dig potatoes. Rider or no rider, he continued to help Mr Prideau in his yard every time he went there.

And so did everyone else.