The ideas are flowing, now I need the priorities

Ok, so now I get it Mum.  When you have all of these ideas of what you want to write about and share with anyone who is following your stories and thought patterns, but you have trouble organising yourself to prioritise your time.

Mum used to talk about how she felt like the spirits of her Ancestors were “bothering” her, jostling to the front of the queue when they got impatient for their story to be told.  I haven’t (yet) felt that as such, I’m sure as I turn more in to my mother {chuckle} this will happen.  For now though, I feel like I’m having ideas and starting a few different things, so that now I’ve got multiple stories on the go and I’m not sure which one to focus on first.

I have this wonderful story that is the story of the Canadian Cousins – that is a big story and will take time and I have decided that I am going to follow Mandy’s suggestion and write a book – Mum’s book.  Mum always said she was going to write a book and she just didn’t know what it was going to be about.  So, I’ve decided I’m going to write Mum’s book for her.  It will be the story of discovering her Canadian Cousins existed and then how she sought them out, created a strong relationship with them and began to uncover the mystery of their family.  I will pull extracts from that to share here, on Mum’s blog, but for the whole uncut version of the story, you will need to buy the book 🙂  The plan is not to become a millionaire, but perhaps to raise enough funds to keep Mum’s rellies “in the ground” by paying the lease fees on their graves as they become due.  That seems pretty fair.

I also have another book that needs to be published – Grandad’s book, which was written by my Grandad in the late 70’s, early 80’s that chronicles the first 4 years of his time in Australia, when he was 16-19 years old.  He wrote it on a typewriter and the font is quite faint and hasn’t scanned all that well.  Although my Husband assures me that there is technology that will assist the transfer of it to a Word document, I’m a bit slow at working that kind of thing out, and I’m kind of enjoying typing it out – reading it as I go.  Not sure how I’ll go about publishing that one, I guess that will be the learning then to take on board to publishing the bigger one.

Then there is Mum’s trip to Shipley to discover where Grandad came from in 1995.  She has talked about it a few times in her blogs.  As Grandad’s health (and in particular memory) was fading in the 1990’s he was getting increasingly distressed about the fact that no-one could find where he came from – 42 Mossman Street, off Crag Road, Windhill, Shipley, United Kingdom.

So, Mum made it her mission to discover where Grandad came from, which she did.  Being the storyteller she was, she wrote a diary on her trip, which I took with me when I went to the UK last year.  I began writing out her diary then.  It is a fantastic story of her discovering her Father’s homeland.  Then when she got back, she put together a folder of photographs and notes and she gave it to Grandad, who was overjoyed to know that she had found his homeland and could see photos of how it looked now – his memories of his childhood came flooding back and Mum felt as though she had calmed his soul, just before the dementia took hold of him.  The saddest part was that years later Nana had told Mum that she should take the folder back as Grandad was past the point of it being useful for him and she knew how precious it was.  Mum never got it back and thought for years after Nana had died that it had gone missing when Nana’s treasures were sifted through.  This was very traumatic for Mum and she thought that someone in the family had taken it and may not have known the true value of it.

When I was cleaning Mum’s house out after she died, I found Grandad’s book – which I had never seen before and I found Mum’s precious folder she made for Grandad.  It was in with Nana’s keepsakes, and had been kept safe after all.  I am sad that Mum never knew that, but I think she would be happy for me to share the story of her trip on her blog.

So, after writing out my to do list here, I think I’ve worked out that what I need to focus on first is the Shipley trip in 1995.  I will put a series of posts together of the trip from a combination of the diary and the folder.

Yep, that’s it.  Ok, maybe I’ll see if I can make a start…. How great for me to have a place to come to clear my head about which direction I should take….

By the way, the other job I got finished this week was the final proof of the words on Mum’s headstone.  The stone should be delivered in mid October, so I imagine the headstone should be finished by the end of October, and I am pleased to say that the Canadian Cousins made it in to my life in time for me to immortalise their link with Mum in stone – Mum would be thrilled with this – I just know it (and I’m pretty sure that a couple of the Canadian Cousins will be pretty chuffed too).

The Canadian Cousin story continues to grow and unfold – just yesterday June told me that she found Grandad’s sister’s grandson (so the same generation as me – our grandparents being blood siblings) and I have sent him a message on FB.  He’ll probably think I’m some nutjob (which I’m sure many people thought about Mum when she contacted them out of the blue and told them she was their cousin) but maybe not.  We’ll just have to see.  Like June said “see, us coming together is working, I just needed a bit of a push because I would never have done it on my own”.  Yes June, it is coming together and is making the story I have to write bigger all the time!

As June says often in her emails TTFN (ta ta for now).

Kirrily

 

 

 

 

ANZAC DAY 2013 – LEST WE FORGET

THE SILENT BATTLEFIELD

“THE Australian soldier returned, he made it home to me:
Beyond the joy, the twinkling in his eyes I could not see;
His eyes were full of darkness, twinkling there was no more;
The man I loved had not returned, it was only the soldier that I saw;
So confident and so brave, but something had gone wrong;
He left himself behind in that battlefield all alone;
Where is the man that I adore, for it is he I need;
Silent prayers have gone unanswered, please return to me;
I hold my breath and make a wish, for I know that he is trying;
Trying to leave his battlefield, a battlefield for the dying;
Waiting is what I will do, for eternity if need be,
Waiting for my love to return, return once more to me.”

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Last ANZAC DAY I posted this haunting poem written by KRYSTI NEALE of Kapooka, New South Wales, Australia (born and raised in Semaphore, South Australia)…  Since then I have constantly wondered how life is now for her, her husband and family and continue to send much love and healing energy their way.

Last weekend the following article, by Ian Henschke, appeared in the SAWeekend section of the South Australian Advertiser which reminds us all that it is not only the dead and physically maimed members of the armed services we should be re-membering and honouring this ANZAC DAY, but also those carrying the horrific hidden injuries that were once called “Shell Shock” and “Battle Fatigue” but now carry the moniker of PTSD “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” 

The High Price of War.2

IT READS:  (the emphasis is mine)

I’ll be co-commentator for the BC TV Anzac Day coverage again on Thursday morning. Every year we see fewer and fewer veterans. First the World War I Diggers thinned to just a lone marcher. Then there were none. The World War II ranks have been decimated too as they get their final marching orders. The bulk of the ex combatants this year will be from Vietnam and now they’re falling away as age wearies them.

It makes you wonder about the veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. I met a mother the other day whose son is a vet from the war on terror. He is now fighting his own war on terror. He is one of those from the bloody-roadside bomb-ridden conflicts who won’t march, not because of physical wounds, but because of psychological wounds.

Last Remembrance Day Major-General John Cantwell was in Adelaide to raise aware- ness of vets like that mother’s son who were suffering privately. He had just published his biography Exit Wounds. He’d enlisted as a private, gone up through the ranks, been on the front line in Iraq in 1991 and by 2006 had risen to be commander of the Australian forces in Afghanistan, but within a few years his world caved in.

Seeing enemy soldiers buried alive and a car bomb blow up a Baghdad marketplace crowded with women and children left haunting memories. His mind was filling with horror. And it kept filling. Ten of his soldiers were killed in 2010 in Afghanistan. He came home and was about to be promoted to the pinnacle of his military career when he ended up in a psychiatric hospital. We’d heard about the war trauma before but from not such a high-ranking-soldier.

Perhaps the most famous incident of a high-ranking officer confronting post-traumatic stress was 70 years ago when US General Patton had a brain snap in a military hospital. He wasn’t a patient but he showed the symptoms. He came across two of his fellow soldiers suffering from battle fatigue. He slapped them across the face, and verbally abused them. He kicked one of them and pulled out a pistol on the other and threatened to shoot him on the spot. He is reported to have said, “I won’t have those cowardly bastards hanging around our hospitals. We’ll probably have to shoot them some time anyway, or we’ll raise a breed of morons”.

Post-traumatic stress disorder was diagnosed as shell shock and war neurosis in World War I. It became battle fatigue in World War II. In 1943 at the very time General Patton ws thinking about how many “yellow bastards”  should be shot, the US military was frantically making secret training films to show their medical officers just how serious and real the issue was becoming. In one, now declassified, film they talk about the campaigns that Patton headed in North Africa and Italy where they were seeing up to 50 per cent of soldiers with some form of “battle fatigue”. 

Patton led an army that fought for 281 days straight from the landing in Normandy to the fall of Berlin. It ended up killing, wounding or capturing around one and a half million enemy. For its part, it sustained 140,000 casualties. The long term toll of PTSD is still debatable, but it is now recognised that up to a third of those in sustained fighting end up with some sort of psychological wound. It prompted the US military by the end of the war to come up with the slogan: “Every man has his breaking point”.

General Patton’s was when he broke his neck in a car accident on the way to a pheasant shoot near Speyer in Germany just before Christmas 1945. One of his last comments was: “This is a hell of a way to die.” He was buried in a war grave in Luxembourg alongside his men. This Anzac Day spare a thought, lest we forget, for those who won’t march because they have PTSD, and that’s a hell of a way to live.

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EXIT WOUNDS

When discussing his Book, EXIT WOUNDS, Major-General John Cantwell is quoted as saying… “This is my story, but it is also the story of thousands of Australian veterans from Iraq, East Timor, Afghanistan and other conflicts who bear similar emotional scars. This is what becomes of those men and women we send off to war, pay little attention to, then forget once they are home.”

We are told that: “As a country boy from Queensland, John Cantwell signed up to the army as a private and rose to the rank of major general. He was on the front line in 1991 as Coalition forces fitted bulldozer blades to tanks and buried alive Iraqi troops in their trenches. He fought in Baghdad in 2006 and saw what a car bomb does to a marketplace crowded with women and children. In 2010 he commanded the Australian forces in Afghanistan when ten of his soldiers were killed. He returned to Australia in 2011 to be considered for the job of chief of the Australian Army. Instead, he ended up in a psychiatric hospital.

Exit Wounds is the compassionate and deeply human account of one man’s tour of the War on Terror, the moving story of life on a modern battlefield: from the nightmare of cheating death in a minefield, to the poignancy of calling home while under rocket fire in Baghdad, to the utter despair of looking into the face of a dead soldier before sending him home to his mother. He has hidden his post traumatic stress disorder for decades, fearing it will affect his career.

Australia has been at war for the past twenty years and yet there has been no stand-out account from these conflicts—Exit Wounds is it. Raw, candid and eye-opening, no one who reads this book will be unmoved, nor forget its imagery or words.”

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To read my previous posts re: ANZAC Day and our Diggers… please just click on HOME, in the Menu bar above, and then select “Military” in the Category “side bar”… Cheers, Catherine.

RESOURCES

Thankyou to the South Australian Advertiser for the poem – “The Silent Battlefield” Published in: “The (Adelaide) Advertiser“, Remembrance Day, 11 Nov 2011
Thanks also to  “The (Adelaide) Advertiser“, for Ian Henschke’s article – “The high price of war” published in SAWeekend 20-21 April 2013.

EXIT WOUNDS can be purchased from the following bookshops and the quotes I’ve used can be attributed to both these companies. Many thanks…

Random House Books – Australia: http://www.randomhouse.com.au/books/john-cantwell/exit-wounds-one-mans-war-on-terror-9780522861785.aspx

ABC Shop: http://shop.abc.net.au/products/exit-wounds-tpb

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Copyright © 2013.  Catherine Ann Crout-Habel.
Seeking Susan~Meeting Marie~Finding Family

MUSICAL MONDAY: The Drover’s Boy

The Drover's Boy.“The Drover’s Boy” is a song by Ted Egan and recalls the time when it was illegal for Caucasians and Aborigines to marry, and the death of an Aborigine went unnoticed by the white community. This popular and moving Australian folk song comes from a true story about a Caucasian drover (the Australian name for a cowboy or sheep herder) who is forced to pass off his Aboriginal wife as his “drover’s boy”. Ted Egan wrote this song as a tribute to the Aboriginal stockwomen, in the hope that one day their enormous contribution to the Australian pastoral industry might be recognized and honoured.

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The drover

Ted’s song has been expanded into a book… the details can be found HERE.

THANKS TO: Wikipedia… please click HERE for the link and further information.

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Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel

People Read Histories Written by Australian Women.

Stumbling Through the Past

Logo for Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012‘Pretend to be a man’.  That is the advice that aspiring female author, Kasey Edwards received from a literary agent.  Edwards refused to change her name.  ‘Well at least you’re pretty. That should help with media.’ responded the literary agent.

Yesterday Kasey Edwards told her story in an article published on the Fairfax Daily Life website.  She also wrote about a group of women and men who participated in an online book reading and reviewing challenge, The Australian Women Writers’ Challenge.

Over the last year I have written about the fact that women writers don’t receive anywhere near as many reviews as men in major media outlets.  A number of readers including me, realised that for an unknown reason we were not reading anywhere near as many books written by women as men.  I decided to bring balance back into my reading by signing up for the Australian Women…

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