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A Shout From The Attic: The June Years - 10

...Being a nurse meant that I witnessed plenty of coolness and distance from those that ought to have been closer and intimate. Sons that could not hug their dying mothers, brothers who did not understand why their schizophrenic siblings did not respond like normal people did...

Ronnie Bray continues his autobiography.

During the time of my secondment to the Heath Road Wing of the Ipswich and East Suffolk Hospital we had a young boy about seventeen brought in for a full quarter amputation of his right leg due to bone cancer. He was a college boy, about six feet tall, and suffering at the prospect of going through life on one leg. He had been told about the advances in full leg prosthetics, but at seventeen faced with the shock of such a loss, it had done little to cheer him.

I was present when his father came to see him before he was taken to the operating theatre for the amputation. His father was very tall, comporting himself like a military man. He did not enter the side ward where his son lay grieving in his bed, but stood at the door, holding it open, offering what solace he could to his son.

“Chin up, old boy. You’ll be fine,” he said with a distant air such as one might use to encourage a sportsman to give a little more to achieve victory.

His boy looked straight down the bed at the outline of his legs, and did not turn his gaze towards his father who left saying,
“See you soon.”

He waved, a peremptory gesture, then turned on his heels and departed, letting the door close on its own.

The boy gritted his teeth to stem the welling tides of tears and anger at his father’s performance. He needed his father’s coolness to evaporate and hold him giving him comfort through warm human love and closeness, sharing the tragedy and weeping with his son, sharing his anger that such a thing should happen.

Being a nurse meant that I witnessed plenty of coolness and distance from those that ought to have been closer and intimate. Sons that could not hug their dying mothers, brothers who did not understand why their schizophrenic siblings did not respond like normal people did, and, worst of all, the ones that were coldly indifferent to their suffering kin and whose only interest was sparked when death took away their problem and raised the possibility of available property.

The amputee’s father was a wealthy man who secured for his son the best of everything to make the operation go as well as was humanly possible. The boy would be taken to a private convalescent hospital; to recover, and then to a specialised and expensive rehabilitation where he would have a prosthetic leg made, and learn to use it so that he could be mobile, active, and independent again.

This boy would never want for the assistance he would need to slip back into the mainstream of college and university life. He would have everything that money could buy. I overheard an ancillary worker saying that he was a boy was born with a silver spoon in his life – that he was a boy who had everything. I agreed – almost, for he had many things and would have many other things, but he lacked the one thing a young man needs to make him emotionally whole and stable – he lacked a father. I thought what a pity it is that money cannot buy a prosthetic father who would imitate the role of a real one made of flesh, blood, having a warm accepting heart.

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