Monday, April 26, 2010

Memoir Monday - Anzac Day: Lest We Forget


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.

Uncle Jack

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?”



I held on so tightly

Words trapped within my mouth

Trying to say so much

But they wouldn’t come on out



Instead I said “I love you”

When I meant “You are so brave.

Thank you for coming home again,

And for this life of mine you’ve saved.”




11 comments:

E. said...

Wow. What a wonderful post, moving poem. Very thought provoking. Thank you for sharing.

Kakka said...

Just beautiful, he would be so proud of you sharing these lovely heartfelt words. Just like so many men and women who struggled when they returned he kept it to himself and only the wives knew the pain. Hugs xxx

Lori said...

Beautiful poem MM.

That One Mom said...

That is a great poem. I am not at all familiar with Australian history. Guess I will be doing some reading today!

Laura said...

That was beautiful and moving. Thank you for sharing that with us.

Dame Nuisance said...

I'm guessing ANZAC Day is the Aussie version of Memorial Day over here in the States? I think your Uncle Jack would have been pleased with your post.

Visiting all the blogs participating in Memoir Monday today.

kbxmas said...

Wow, beautiful and powerful. And so sad. xoxo

And hey, nearing that century mark I see. :-)

Wendy aka Quillfeather. said...

Beautiful post for a worthy topic.

Lest we forget, indeed.

Kylie said...

That is just beautiful.

I have a Returned Serviceman as my husband and more among our friends.

Sometimes you wonder whether anyone actually understands. Your writing today makes me think that maybe some people do.

Madmother said...

Thank you Kylie, that means a lot.

kbxmas, slowly, slowly...

Langdowns said...

That was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you.