Uncle Doug

A peaceful silence hung over the ward in the Hospice in-patient unit. The sound of tinkling cups in the distance announced the onset of teatime in a few minutes. Tritan’s ears pricked as he lay in the large comfortable patch of sun. He licked his lips in anticipation of a tasty treat that would follow during the course of the afternoon.
Uncle Doug stirred under the white covers on the white steel bed above him.
‘Are you still here my boy? You are such a loyal old soul. You make my days here worthwhile. Yes, come over here so that I can rub your head. That’s it, you beautiful boy…’ Tritan’s golden Cocker Spaniel tail wagged with delight as he stood with his two front paws on the cotton bedspread.
‘You better not let Sister Rosemary see your dirty paws on my bed. We’ll both get a scolding.’
Firm footsteps approaching the ward were Tritan’s cue to return to his place in the sun.
‘You are such a clever boy. I don’t even know your name, do you know that? You just appeared out of nowhere one day and made yourself comfortable here in my room. I must have done something good in my miserable life to be blessed with your loving company during the last days of my life.’
Tritan rushed to the window as a large ginger cat appeared on the ledge outside. His instincts battled inside his head. This fluffy creature challenged him through the pane of glass, emerald eyes piercing his defenses.
Tritan ran out of the ward, confused.
‘Don’t go… please” Uncle Doug’s voice snapped him out of his predicament.
He could not leave him now. His heart told him that this assignment would end soon. Emerald eyes would still be there tomorrow.
Tritan returned to his patch of sunlight.

Stand Alone Women


A Tribute to the ‘Stand Alone Women’ in my life – Women’s Month August 2020


Stand-alone – adjective – intended, designed, or able to be used or to function alone or separately, not connected to or requiring connection to something else: self-contained. Https://www.merriam-webster.com


Every year in August, we pay tribute to women. It is a very noble gesture, but this should not only be the focus one month in a calendar year. I have a large circle of loyal friends. Most of us have been part of one another’s lives for many years. Some of us have known each other since 1975, when we all wrote Grade twelve exams together. Others I got to know really well through church activities over the last thirty odd years and others are beautiful acquaintances from other areas of my life.


It has amazed me all these years just how many of the women in my friendship circle are ‘stand alone women’. Many are divorced or widowed and some have no family members to support them either. I worked with many seniors during my years at a retirement village and there, this was the case as well. These women were from varying occupations and many achieved marvelous things during their younger and latter years. Doris grew up in London and joined the army to fight a war. Sheila never married, so that she could look after her ailing parents and did so until they passed on. Victoria hid ‘enemies of the state’ in her house during the apartheid years and brazenly took sandwiches and coffee to the police members who continually watched her house. Elizabeth suffered tremendous trauma as a young child and struggled with depression. Many other women there fought cancers and illnesses bravely, without the support of family members or spouses.


In my closer circle of friends, divorce has all but crippled some of them. Children have abandoned a few of my girlfriends, or moved across the seas to start new lives. Others have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They now live in hope of a new opportunity when we return to a different kind of normal in the future.


These ‘stand alone women’ are my best friends. We have stood together through every circumstance imaginable and will be there for one another for many years in the future. I have learnt so much from these women over the decades, as they show up every time, no matter what life throws at them. The strong bond of friendship has bound us together and we have created a new family in the absence of blood families.


I salute the Abigail’s, the Mary’s, the Victoria’s, the Sheila’s, the Julia’s, the Natalie’s, and all the unknown women who stand alone. They raise their children, hold down stressful occupations, and fill the shoes of two parents, all in a day’s work. I have always maintained that the bravest women in the world are those who just get up and face the world on their own every day.

The Wonder of Words


During the months and weeks of lock down, I have come to appreciate the value of words. We find ourselves separated from friends and loved ones, and communication is quite different now. Thankfully, we have various media platforms to use to stay in touch with those we love and care about, but it is not the same as being in the same room or space as that of a friend or a relative. I found myself choosing my words carefully while sending messages during this time, as many of my acquaintances and family are struggling with the new norms.

Then of course, when ‘the mask’ became a new member of our daily attire, this took communication to a completely new level. All our emotions remain hidden under those three layers of prescribed fabric. I love to smile at people and soon realized that no one can see that act of friendliness anymore. I know that our eyes are the windows to our souls, but without our lips and our words, do we even know what people are feeling or thinking during this difficult time.

This got me thinking…, imagine a world without words. I cannot even begin to think how lonely we would be if we did not have this form of communication, or how crazy the world would be without it.

Words are phenomenal and beautiful. Words strung together create stories, books, movie scripts, contracts, songs, poetry and vows, among others. Hallmark cards would not exist without the power of words to express feelings and wishes. I am reminded as I write this, that I need to choose my words wisely and appreciate the gift of alphabets, languages and wondrous words. I cannot fathom a world without communication during this very different time of isolation and lock down. Words are incredibly important right now as we have the ability to be destructive or uplifting. May God help us to be aware of what we say and be sensitive to the needs of others. God bless you all.

Maintaining Happiness

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Two Tickets to Paris

Photo by Thorsten technoman – Pexels


Sybil lay under her white cotton duvet, listening to the early morning sounds of farm life. She recognized the crowing of the old rooster near the barn and sighed at the sound of the doves cooing under the roof trusses. She glanced over to where Chris lay snoring gently next to her. She wanted to run her fingers through his pale grey hair but she was reluctant to wake him. What had she done to deserve so much happiness? Sybil snuggled a little deeper under the crisp white linen to enjoy a few more moments of bliss. Her peaceful moment was short lived as the mobile phone on the nightstand vibrated and bounced around to get her attention.

‘Oh my Lord! Not now! Don’t they know how early it is on a Saturday morning? We are trying to sleep!’
‘I’m so sorry Chris… I didn’t mean to disturb you…so sorry my Love.’

‘Good morning, this is Sybil speaking. Do you have any idea what time it is?’ She paced the bedroom floor, shooting worried looks at Chris on the bed.

‘Good morning Ma’am. Am I speaking to Mrs. Sybil Browne?’

‘Yes, yes.. of course you are. I have already told you who I am.’

‘My apologies, Mrs. Browne. This is Myrtle Benning from Visage Promotions. You entered a competition a few months ago when you purchased our full range of facial products. I am very pleased to tell you that you are our prizewinner and you have won a romantic trip to Paris for two people. You….’

‘Are you kidding me? Are you sure you have the right person? Sybil Browne? Woo hoo!’ Sybil catapulted onto the bed and Chris covered his head with the bedding.

‘Chris.. Chris, we are going to Paris, my Love… to Paris. To Paris. Can you believe this?’ The shiny black cell phone slipped through her fingers and shattered into pieces as it slid across the wooden flooring.

‘When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie,**
That’s Amore!
When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine,
That’s Amore!
Bells will ring…’ Sybil danced across the room, her hands flying above her head.

‘Wrong country, my Love.’ Chris chuckled. ‘That’s Italy. We’re going to gay Paris!’

He held her in his arms as they moved in unison across the room. The rays of early morning sunshine tried to sneak in between the soft white curtains to join in on the frivolity.

Sybil stopped abruptly and disentangled Chris’s arms.

‘Oh my goodness Chris! I have to phone that woman back! I got so excited about Paris. I’ll have to put the phone together again…’ Laughter peeled from her belly like excited bells.

‘Let me help you. I wasn’t even aware that you’d entered a competition for Paris. I know that it’s been on your bucket list for so many years…. and now. Wow! Isn’t this exciting? Want to hear a little confession?’ Chris glanced sheepishly at his wife.

‘No Chris, please don’t tell me that you had a steamy affair there once in your turbulent youth?’
Sybil threw back her silver curls as she hurled an embroidered cushion at him.

‘I’m going to get you for this…. I’ll just tickle you until you wet yourself’

Sybil ran for the protection of the bed covers, but Chris intercepted her and they both landed on the soft down duvet, giggling and out of breath, in one another’s arms.

‘Chris you need to promise me something…’ Her eyes darkened

‘You are frightening me now, my Love. What is it?’

Please promise me that you will never ever leave me. Please, please, please just promise me.’

Chris bolted into an upright position as his stomach knotted. Surely, she couldn’t have found out already.

‘Why are you asking me this right now? How can anyone make a promise like that? Where is this coming from? Who have you been speak…..?

‘It’s just that I love you so much Chris and I’ll just never ever survive without you. I hope you know that?’ Sybil held him so tight that he could hardly breathe and he sighed with relief that she could not see the troubled look in his dark grey eyes.

———-0O0———-

Sybil’s leg twitched as she sat in the back seat of the vehicle bound for the airport. She glanced down at the burgundy leather shopper on her lap and bit her lip.

‘How far do we still have to go?’

‘Almost there.’

The departure hall loomed large ahead of her. She wondered if she could face the frenzy here today. She took a deep breath and moved towards the check-in counter.

‘Good day to you. Are you looking forward to your trip to Paris? I see that you have two tickets. Will the other traveler be checking in soon?’

‘ I…. um, …. yes, I’m sure he will be. Do I have to wait for him? I’d rather just board the plane as soon as I can, if you don’t mind.’ Sybil tapped her fingers on the counter top in irritated anticipation of her boarding pass.

‘Are you alright Mrs. Browne?’

‘Yes, yes thank you, just excited to get to Paris.’ Her voice trembled as she spoke.

‘Enjoy your flight. The agent shook her head and a frown wrinkled her young brow.

Sybil took large steps up the ramp and headed toward the final boarding gate. She was always elegant and composed. Now wasn’t the time. She had to get to the huge white bird waiting on the apron. She held her leather bag close to her chest.

‘Welcome on board.’ Another warm smile on a beautiful young face.

‘Thank you.. so much’, Sybil replied as she tried to catch her breath.

She flopped down into her seat. Sybil opened her bag and placed a small wooden casket next to her on the open seat.

‘My Love… I knew that you would never ever leave me.’

(**That’s Amore Song written by Jack Brooks & Harry Warren)

Jeremiah

A short Story by Laura Kirsten

They stood close together, arms entwined, squinting at the sharp ray of sunlight that projected across the aqua swimming pool.

‘I really do love you, you know,’ Jonathan whispered.

‘I know you do Jon, it’s just that….’ her voice trailed off as they both heard the gentlest plop in the pool.

Their simultaneous exclamation ‘Jeremiah’ shocked them out of the brief tender moment. They rushed towards the pool gate, hoping that the gate was still locked safely. Jonathan got to the pool ahead of Kimberley and wailed as he saw their precious little boy at the bottom of the pool.

‘Why don’t you get him out of there?’ she screamed.

‘You know I can’t swim Jonathan.’ The worst anguish and fear welled up in her chest. She covered her eyes, not wanting to see what Jonathan brought up out of the pool.

Jonathan surfaced with the lifeless body of their first-born.

‘Save him dammit, Jonathan, only you can do this!’

‘Oh God, Kim, I do not know if I can…’

‘Can’t you remember your first aid training….save him, just save him pleeease, I beg you, don’t let him die…’ Sobs wracked her small frame. Droplets of water formed little rivers and trickled off Jonathan’s wavy brown hair onto Jeremiah as he lay peacefully on the paving.

Jonathan hesitated for a moment, as if trying to recall where to start this crucial feat. As if in a wind tunnel, Kimberley heard the muffled sounds as Jonathan struggled. Repeatedly, he tried to raise up some semblance of life.

‘Jeremiah, please wake up! We love you so much!’ Jonathan begged life back into his son’s little body. He took a deep breath and continued resuscitation.

Kimberley rushed over and scooped the toddler up into her arms, rocking him with all her might in a last ditch effort to bring back his little light.

Jonathan circled them both as they howled together in the back yard of their home.

‘We need the paramedics Jon…perhaps they can do a better job and save him…better than us…’ Kimberley motioned to her husband to get inside and summon the emergency services. She continued to rock her baby from side to side.

‘Oh God… he is all that we have and you know how hard we tried to actually get pregnant with him? Don’t you God, don’t you? Please save him for us, I’m begging you…’

Sirens came to a halt outside.

Kimberly was startled by the rushing feet on the paving stones that circled the swimming pool.

‘Ma’m please could you hand us the child? We need to work on him. Give him to me now please.” The middle-aged paramedic pried the mother’s fingers off the child’s body.

‘Please just give us some space now.’ His voice was kind but firm.

Jonathan held Kimberley close to his chest. He could feel her heart pounding nervously in unison with his own. Fear galloped between them.

They turned as one being as they heard the voice of the paramedic.

‘Ma’m, we need to take him with us to the hospital. We are very sorry for your loss.’

‘No, no, no, no! Please don’t take him away from me!’

‘It is okay Mrs. Taylor. You can hold him all the way to the hospital.’ The paramedic sighed as he ushered the distraught mother into the ambulance.

 Neighbours, who had gathered to support the couple, cradled Jonathan and promised to escort him to the hospital.

As the ambulance swayed from side to side, Kimberley prayed, ‘I’m not ready to give him to you yet Lord; I’m going to need your help. Please, please don’t expect me to do this on my own.’ she sobbed.

***

‘I feel so helpless, Jon. I’m not sure how I’m going to survive this’. She stared down the corridors. Her eyes saw nothing.

Jonathan sat on the wooden bench and sobbed into his wife’s lap.

Kimberley got up, dropping her husband’s head on the wooden slats.  She nervously paced the floor, staring at the huge black and white hospital clock above her head. Medical staff went about their duties, oblivious of the torment that the young couple had to endure.

‘How much longer Jon? I can’t stand this anymore.’

Jonathan was numb with fear. Numb with the unbearable sorrow that had moved into his chest cavity.

‘I can’t talk to you right now, Kim. I can’t even breathe properly!’ He gasped as he got up and stumbled towards the nurses’ station.

’ Wait Jonathan, they want us to sign off on Jeremiah forever! And they need your …’

Jonathan slammed his fist down on the white melamine top at the nurse’s desk. The Sister on duty grimaced as the files on her desk slid to the floor.

‘Mr. Taylor, I am terribly sorry for your loss…’ She glanced around nervously. ‘But this behavior will not do you or your lovely wife any good.’

She moved around the desk and gently guided Jonathan back to the bench.

‘Losing a child is the worst tragedy ever… and especially when it is such a young one.  I am truly sorry…’

‘But Sister, we struggled to have Jeremiah at all. We tried for years to get pregnant with him… what are we going to do now…?’ Kimberley had joined them on the bench.

The Sister patted the grieving mother gently on her knee.

‘God always has a plan my girl…you will see.’

‘We are ready for them now Sister Lucy. The documents are ready.’ A younger nurse approached with a file in her hands and passed them to Sister Lucy.

‘Would you please come with me, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor? You will need to sign these hospital documents and then you are free to leave the hospital.’

Jonathan sat with his head in his hands.

Kimberley moved to her husband’s side and gently touched him as his shoulders heaved with sobs.

‘I am so sorry my Love… but you have to do this. They only need your signature…’  

As the road opens up





On a recent trip to Cape Town, I was completely mesmerized by the beauty of a South African road trip. We travelled on ruler straight sections of road, interspersed with segments that wound themselves past endless electricity pylons and numerous rusty windmills. The scenery included various smaller mountain ranges resembling gnomes’ faces covered in grotesque warts. The overwhelming shades of colour that surrounded us all the way, brought back memories of a box of wax crayons missing all the bright colours. Dull shades of browns, greens and beiges painted the landscape most of the way.

Church steeples elegantly towered over rustic buildings in farming towns and the recent drought left tragic ruins in its wake. Empty schools longed for happy young voices and bright new coats of paint. Patient donkeys loyally transported goods and people from one dusty town to another. Years of hard labour etched on the faces of their owners. Life in these rural towns is slow and without modern amenities.

 

Yet more mountain rages came into view. With a little imagination, I saw women’s breasts, an elephant lying on his stomach and cakes eagerly waiting to be layered with icing. When boredom set in, I counted windmills and as my concentration peaked, sacred graveyards came into view. The gravestones made me wonder about rival families and questions of loss and sadness, and the survival of man.

As the journey continued, green and white information signs flashed by, recalling many chapters of our South African history. Towns and places named by Dutch, German, French and British settlers, gave rise to areas called Welgegund, Platdoorns, Renosterkop, Lemoenfontein, Loxton, Carnarvon and Franschhoek. The little town of Leeu-Gamka in the Karoo, established in 1879 is 355 kilometers northeast of Cape Town and has an interesting history. The name originated from the junction of the Leeu and Gamka Rivers and both translate to ‘Lion’ in Afrikaans and IXam, a Khoisan language of South Africa. This little town came into being when the Prime Minister for the Cape Government Railways’ chose a western railway line from Cape Town, to run to the meeting point of the Leeu and Gamka Rivers. A small town grew around the station and in 1896, a church and a school opened. A hotel was added in 1898. Originally known as ‘Fraserburg Road’, this siding was eventually renamed ‘Leeu-Gamka’ in 1950. I am always fascinated by how our towns got their names in South Africa.

Our journey continued to the smooth sounds of Amy Grant and Ronan Keating…. country sounds and saxophone solos. Some of my favourite music accompanied me and lifted my spirits as we negotiated the long road and adhered to warning signs as they flashed by. These signs got me thinking. They are all there for a reason, for the safety of the road users. How often do we sense warnings in our journey through life? Do we take heed and rethink our future choices or simply ignore them and face the consequences? I often wish that I had taken notice of all the warnings that flashed past along my journey… but then; perhaps I wouldn’t have learnt my valuable lessons along the way.

This relaxing road trip reminded me of all the things that I have to be grateful for and that even when things look bleak and impossible in my little world and in my country, there is ALWAYS new hope and opportunity around the next bend in the road. Sometimes the road is straight as a ruler or winding around tight bends but there is always something amazing there to catch my eye.

Enjoy your journey…..

Photographs courtesy of Google Images

http://www.dangerousroads.org/africa/south-africa.html

https:// maroelamedia.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/N1-worcester.jpg?x23433

 

Just Causes

Just Causes


Hundreds of images of disaster, loss, and grief have flooded our television screens and newspapers over the past few days. In an already negative environment, these images overwhelmed me and caused so much sadness as I have tried to make sense of it all. Senseless murders caused far too many families to bury their loved ones. Floods and fires brought their disastrous share of destruction and poverty wreaks havoc in communities all over the country.
As an employee in a non-profit environment, I am acutely aware of the many organisations and causes that face enormous daily challenges to raise funds for their communities. Hospices, animal shelters, day care and educational centres, clinics, women’s shelters and poverty alleviation spaces, to name a few. As I mingle with people at fundraising events and address various assemblies, I become more and more aware of the misunderstanding that exists towards organisations that are dependent on the public for financial and material assistance on a regular basis. Donors are often reluctant to donate money, as they fear corruptive practices and others have become so tired of continual requests for help.

Specifically in the hospice environment, there is a massive reluctance to donate to these worthy causes as the mere mention of the ‘Hospice’ word evokes fears of death…. Intense research has shown that this is a worldwide phenomenon and much education is needed to quell this misconception. The Hospice philosophy is not just the buildings where patients are cared for, but also the services that are offered. Very often families become donors only once a family member has passed through the hands of Hospice care. Another misconception is that only ’older’ people are treated at Hospices and only cancer patients. Patients of all ages and all suffering from life limiting diseases are cared for at Hospices and many resources are needed to care for these patients from every walk of life.

To make sense of the non-profit world, I have had to make peace with the fact that we all choose an organisation or a just cause of our choice. It really does not matter where your heart lies. What is of utmost importance is that we do indeed donate our time, money, or goods to a place where our efforts are sorely needed. An incredible example of this is in action east of Johannesburg, where senior women, affectionately known as ‘Gogos’ in the communities, spend afternoons in makeshift libraries, reading to the township children. As part of their service, they also go to great lengths to find suitable books for these avid little learners. Woolen caps, gloves, food and blankets round off this heartwarming support.

 

Another worthy cause operating in all the townships in the same area is a group of animal lovers who collect pets for inoculations and medical services, free of any charges. Bags of food and warm blankets form part of this service. Yet another group of women are knitting little ‘breasts’ from the softest cottons and filling them with the purest cotton balls for breast cancer patients just out of mastectomy surgery. These little ‘breasts’ fill a space that is now vacant and won’t hurt the tender surgical area.

I could continue writing about the thousands of non-profit organisations presently active in South Africa. I am aware that we are often annoyed and irritated by constant requests for assistance, but being involved on the other side; I can assure you that non-profits cannot possibly operate without the support of their communities.

Sadly, we often wait for disasters to happen before we stand together and make plans to relieve the suffering and loss of those caught in the crossfire of these calamities.

Especially at this time, where so much lack and destruction is evident, let us choose our cause or organisation to support, and be reminded that these very important places are not JUST causes or organisations…. they all fill a need in someone or some animal’s life.

 

Where can YOU help?  

Until next time….

Sharing is Caring – or is it?


Sharing is Caring – or is it?

A very recent trip to the coast, where sharing a room with two of my best friends was the order of the day, I became acutely aware of the words of the faithful kiddies’ character, Barney: ‘Sharing is Caring’. I am sure that since Barney made his appearance on national television all over the world, many mothers, educators and child minders have quoted his famous words over and over again. How do you teach a young child to share? Just remind him what Barney says. Whether it works all the time, probably remains to be seen, but it is certainly worth a try to maintain peace and tranquility when little ones vie for ownership of their favourite (or others’) space or possessions.
How do things play out when three adult women, varying in ages and with incredibly strong personalities, share a relatively small space for a period of ten days? Interesting comes to mind….and perhaps even challenging? Perhaps Barney would even have had a secret giggle had he been there? I am really quite accustomed to sharing with a friend or family member on the various trips that I have had the pleasure of experiencing throughout my life and as I honestly don’t enjoy confrontation, I am known to back down and just let things be… but this time it was very different! I had made up my mind several weeks ahead of this recent trip that I would most definitely have a room of my own in the family set up that the hotel provides. The other two would share and that was the way it was going to be – well so I thought…
After a grueling eight hours on a small, less luxurious, 22 seater coach, having experienced all four seasons during the trip and the worst mist ever, we finally arrived at our destination, in need of a very strong cup of tea, or something a tad stronger. As the tour guide of the group of mostly senior citizens, I was obliged to help them all to recover their luggage and settle them into their accommodation. Eventually with great anticipation I boarded the lift to my room, totally assured that my ‘single’ room awaited me. The children’s room in the family unit was what I viewed first and I was really happy that this would be my haven for the next nine days. The main bedroom was something to behold, crisp clean linen, and a sea view that took my breath away. That’s okay, I thought, the other two could share the room and the view as well. I would pop in now and then to get my fair share of the sea breeze that billowed through the open windows, as long as I could have my OWN space for a few days.
I am not so sure if Barney would have had any advice for me as the days wore on, but my solitary space literally disappeared by day two, like a beautiful mist driven out by the early morning sun. Strong female personalities and raging hormones soon determined who would be housed where and I finally had to make peace with, (yes you got it!) once again sharing a holiday space!
This situation got me thinking…. does ‘forced’ sharing really make you very caring? I was constantly wondering if my reactions were acceptable or not? Known not to cause disruptions in situations, I carefully accepted the status quo once again. The main question in my head was: ‘Am I still caring?’ while my emotions often stormed inside of me. One friend with me, desperately needed this holiday and my resolve shifted from disappointment to tolerance eventually and then on to my version of ‘caring’ while we were all sharing this small space.
I could probably write this experience down to my ultimate test in Barney’s wise words: ‘Sharing is Caring’ and it all boils down to me making my correct choices, no matter how difficult the situation that presented itself. Please don’t get me wrong, I am no saint when it comes to dealing with situations, especially when the war takes place inside of my heart and my head. I would hope that I passed some lesson in life that was destined for me for those few days of my life. Let’s hope Barney would have approved.
Until we meet again… Read More

Craving Gentleness

 Craving GentlenessCraving Gentleness pink.jpg edited

Over the last few months I have become acutely aware of a lack of gentleness and kindness all over the world. Countries are plagued with terror attacks and politicians are driven by incredible greed and power. Refugees experience the worst of circumstances to get to other countries with the hope of a better life and poverty leads many to vicious criminal acts. Heart wrenching images flash across our television screens and appear in newspapers and magazines, highlighting the depths that mankind is capable of.

I have always been shocked by the way in which women and girls have been treated throughout the ages and still are in many countries. I am busy reading ‘Mayada Daughter of Iraq’ written by well known author, Jean Sasson. This book tells the awful true story of a woman’s survival in Saddam Hussein’s torture jail in 1999. The story recounts the dreadful and traumatizing acts of absolute savage behavior in this jail and tells the stories of many women crammed into a single prison cell. Prison guards were driven by promises of wealth and status in return for the most brutal acts of torture and suffering.  A pivotal theme in this book is the total disregard of humanity, respect and human rights. It boggles the mind that human beings, who have been given such a precious gift of choice between good and evil, can stoop to such levels of human degradation.

Daily we are surrounded by angry motorists, impatient shoppers, negative news reports, conflicting health reviews, cynicism towards our new ideas, lawlessness and an abounding fear of the future …….. and a huge absence of gentleness, kindness and patience.  What has happened to our world?  What messages are we conveying to our children and grandchildren? That it is acceptable to beat up the boy in the classroom because of a misunderstanding or a skew word or are we teaching them to spare a thought for the other person’s set of circumstances and reactions?

I am an avid lover of films and often find myself feeling really sad after watching a movie with a gentle story line. Does this only happen on a scripted set or are there still genuine stories with happy endings? Of course there are, but they seem to be rare nuggets waiting to be unearthed rather than just lying around for all to see and experience.  Of course life is not like the Hallmark movie channel where everything is peachy perfect and all’s well that ends well…..our journeys are created to have diversions, trials and searches to hopefully create strong and vibrant characters along the way. Like the game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’, some ladders need to be climbed and at times we slither down the ‘snakes’.

Sometimes my life feels like a maze, each room filled with a situation that I am not quite equipped to handle or rather wish I didn’t have to enter. Some rooms are filled with overwhelming noise and issues that go totally against my belief systems, but cannot be avoided and I just have to find my way out of them. Other rooms are filled with disappointments and broken dreams or choices that I would rather not be reminded of and then there are those that have bright shafts of hope and reminders of gentleness and possibilities of good things to look forward to.

Perhaps I just need to remove myself periodically to a walk in a quiet labyrinth where I can take deep breaths of  fresh air and new ideas and find the gentleness that I crave in this world of mine. We are all part of a world that is woven together with various colourful strands of kindness and gentleness amid the often overwhelming issues that we cannot change or don’t want to accept. Life is often challenging, but amid all the highs and lows, we can find a place to call ‘my happy space’.

 

Until next time…..

Images courtesy of Google Images.

 

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