Now normally I use these posts to carry on about some of the stupid crap I have gotten into during my forty six or so years of life, but here in Australia this weekend is truly special.
Yesterday was Anzac Day, April 25th. Today we have a public holiday to commemorate due to it falling on a Sunday (not sure of the logic, but hey, any excuse for a BBQ, a long weekend and a little two-up). I have not attended an Anzac Day march for many years, though we do watch the bigger gatherings on TV. Having a child with Asperger Syndrome is not conducive to attending such crowded, loud celebrations.
But, although I have attended many marches over the years right into adulthood, it is the ones of my childhood in my small, country hometown which stick vividly in my mind and can cause the tears to well.
I would swell with pride as I watched our proud diggers march, many who were not up to the walk were pushed in wheelchairs by other frail mates. My uncle was one of those who strode the path walking tall and proud. Head held high, medals proudly adorning his chest, he strode tall and true. A survivor of Changi, the horrors of war had physically and emotionally scarred him forever, but to me he was a loving part of my family. The typical Aussie larrakin, he lovingly teased and tickled, taking pride in my little big mouth attitude. It was not until I was older and allowed to help out at some of his soldier mates get togethers that I began to realise the horrors he had survived.
And so, on Anzac Day, many years after he has departed this earth, I dedicate this Memoir Monday to him.
Lest We Forget.
My Aunt was sobbing softly
In the kitchen’s dying light
As I hid deep in the corner
I just knew that things weren’t right
We kids had marched at daybreak
Up early on that day
Young children, oh so earnest
For the ANZAC Day parade
Uncle Jack strode strong behind us
Laconic smile at his best
With all the medals shining
Pinned high upon his chest
Every time I turned to look back
His cheeky wink was sent
And he blew me sloppy kisses
As along the streets we went
But now my Aunt was crying
When I thought she should be proud
Cause my Uncle survived Changi
He was a digger tall and loud.
Mum put her arms around her
Gently asking: “Is it worse?
Have the nightmares lessened,
Or does he still lash out and curse?”
He had survived such horrors
Watched most his good friends die
On that gruesome Burma railway
As it sucked away their lives
A gentle man had signed up
And died with all his mates
The man who had returned home
Broken, scarred and full of hate
Night terrors revealed so much
Of that he would not speak
Where he’d strangle all his captors
Whilst deeply lost in sleep
By day he’d still be funny
A loving family man
But nights were filled with violence
As he battled them again
My Aunt wiped away the tearstains
And stood up with a sigh
“Well, be best be getting cooking
It’s nearly their teatime.”
I walked out of the kitchen
To where the men sat in the sun
My Uncle Jack hugged then asked me,
“Whachya doin, little one?”