ANZAC day

Today is ANZAC Day.  A day where we acknowledge the sacrifice that so many service personnel made in the name of keeping our country safe, in a series of wars over decades.

The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps are saluted with respect in countless ceremonies across our countries.  This morning we set our alarm for three am, and then crawled out of the warm bed, got ready and headed off to the Memorial Centre for the Pre-Dawn service.  We go every year as Ross’s grandfather was an Original Anzac who fought in Gallipoli amongst other places, and his father also served Australia in the Second World War.  So the tradition of attending this service endures out of respect for their efforts.

Following the service we all head off to the local Returned Soldiers League Club for the Gunfire breakfast.  Not gourmet fare, but made more palatable when accompanied by coffee laced with a shot of rum.  After that, we head for home and slide back into bed for a few more hours sleep.  Then we go about our daily lives, not giving it much more thought.

Not too much of a hardship to acknowledge the efforts of those who served, and then we go about our daily lives.  So many families are affected by these wars, and yet we — as a society — continue to create wars to send our young people off to fight and die and experience untold horrors that we who stay behind can never truly understand.

Many come back from war mentally scarred, yet appear quite normal.  The horrors they’ve seen are so often unable to be expressed and many suffer in silence.

An article published in February 2016 on news.com.au states                                 “According to Queensland-based charity, Walking Wounded, since 1999, 49 soldiers have been killed while on active duty, 239 veterans have taken their own lives.”  

A tragic state of affairs, and here we are in an age of enlightenment, of advanced medical technology yet we can’t seem to look after our soldiers after they’ve laid their lives on the line to protect us.  To allow us to enjoy our lives.

So in reality, getting up at three o’clock in the morning, one day each year to attend a service that recognises the efforts that have been made for us, is not too much of a hardship.  But recognising that it doesn’t stop there, for those who have served the nightmares continue throughout the years. Then there is the ripple effect on the families and friends, especially when there is a suicide.

We can put ourselves out for one day each year, but they  have to live with their reality every day.

In the words I recently heard from a veteran — nobody wins a war.

 

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Don’t judge the book by it’s cover.

It’s an old saying, but oh so true.

How often have you looked at a book cover and thought it would be something worth reading, only to find you just couldn’t get past the first few pages.  Or even read a chapter or three and thought it just wasn’t worth continuing, that you could spend your time much more  productively doing something else.

I know the feeling well, and sometimes it can be so disappointing, especially when you’ve saved it for a special time like a holiday.

People can be much like books.  We often see only the surface, like the cover of the book.

We make judgements on a short connection, labelling the person as being ‘touchy’ or ‘aggressive’ or even ‘rude’.  Or we might meet someone and think  ‘What a lovely soul’ after only spending  a brief time with them, then meeting them again and finding them totally different.

Now sometimes this can be attributed to someone just having a bad day, and haven’t we all had them a time or two?   So we might give them the benefit of doubt, putting them in that category.

I work as a casual in a retail clothing store, a job I really enjoy as I get to talk to lots of lovely people.  There has only been the rare occasion when someone has been rude to me.  Usually if they are a bit terse I can make a few comments and have them chatting quite easily.  Some are not so easy.   Others seem very polite, but not inclined to chat, and I respect that, keeping conversation to the necessary minimum.

The other day, I had a customer who I’ve chatted with before, but not more than comments on the weather or the clothing on display.  I had thought her to be a little stand-offish, but politely so.   This particular day she commented on my locket, saying that she had one the same size and just like it.  We spoke about it for a bit, and I told her how I’d searched for it so I could put a decent size photograph in it.  As I said that I opened it and showed her my photo of Kelly.  She smiled and told me how she has a picture of both her children in hers, and the conversation progressed to sharing about our children and their ages. When  I said that Kelly will always be twenty – forever young, she looked surprised and then realised what I meant.  So  then we talked on the death of a child and suicide.

When I mentioned the book I’d written, she started talking about her experience as her partner had also died by suicide.  Talking of her years of struggle to provide an income as a sole parent back when there was not much government assistance.   She shared confidential information with me, all because I’d walked in her shoes for a bit.

It got me thinking about the people we meet, but don’t really know anything about.  How we judge them, make assumptions based on brief meetings, label them and put them in various categories that we have created.  But that’s not who they really are.

Consider the image that you portray to others, the first impression you make.  Some of us are shy and reserved, until we get to know someone better.  Others of us are garrulous and outgoing all the time, cheerful no matter what.  Some seem unfazed by anything – but are they really?  What is happening beneath the surface?

So when you next meet someone who you think is rude, ask yourself if thats really who they are, and could they be suffering or grieving or just having a bad day?  Or perhaps is the way you are feeling clouding your judgement?

Maybe not judge that book by its cover.

Responsibility

Quite a big word.  The  Concise English Dictionary says that to be responsible means to be able to discriminate between right and wrong; to be able to act according to the laws; to be respectable; trustworthy; and responsibility is the state of being responsible, as for a person trust etc, etc.

It is a word that is often bandied around, and generally without much thought about meanings. But most of us understand about being responsible.

I have a fifteen year old grandson who stays overnight once a week, mainly to get his internet fix as there isn’t much available on the farm where he lives.

We get him up for school, feed him his breakfast and see that he makes the bus on time.  So that means setting the alarm to get him up, then putting the porridge on in the Thermi and sometimes tag-teaming it with Ross so I can go back to bed.

Last week I dutifully set the alarm as I went to bed, but didn’t have a very good sleep.  In fact I spent quite a few of the wee hours reading.  So when I finally slept, it was very deeply and then the alarm went off.  Groaning and berating myself for being so stupid to leave the alarm set, I rolled over and turned it off then went back to sleep – until five to ten!

I woke and lay there for a few moments and then looked at the clock.  Sh…t!!!  – it all came back to me in a rush.  I remembered turning the alarm off thinking I’d set it by mistake but it was my responsibility to get up, wake up the lad and get him set for the day — his last day of school as it turns out.  He was to go on a fun run and I’d messed it all up.

I felt terrible.  So I was mentally beating myself up for around an hour until I really stopped and thought about it.  Why was I the only one of the three charged with the ‘responsibility’ of getting him off to school?  Surely I wasn’t the sole keeper of the alarm? Ross has an alarm, the almost-sixteen year old certainly has an alarm on the phone that I’m sure is well within reach of his lanky arm.  So why was I the villain of the piece?  Why was it my sole responsibility?   He duly reported to his mother that “Nobody woke me up!”  to which she replied “You have an alarm and are old enough to get yourself up, it’s not anyone else’s responsibility!”

Now whilst that made me feel marginally better, I still feel I let him down.  But I’m working on getting over it.

So in reality, that is just a small thing compared to some of the responsibility we are all charged with on a daily basis.  Something that I believe we all have a responsibility for is caring for others.  Especially when it comes to preventing suicide.

If everyone took a small part in being responsible for suicide prevention, then surely there would be less suicides?  If we all are on the look out for our family and friends welfare, picking up on signs that all is not well in someones world,  then stepping up and asking if they are feeling okay.  Then we could reduce the number of families suffering with the loss of a loved one to suicide.

In ‘Coping With Suicide’ I put a list of what to ask and what not to ask as a guideline, as well as many of the signs of potential suicide.  There are also many websites dedicated to the subject, discussing signs and symptoms at length for anyone to read.  Then where to go to get help.

Also the Salvation Army’s Hope For Life has an online program called QPR – Question, Persuade and Refer, which is easy to do and for only a small fee.

So I believe that we as a society all have a responsibility in regard to suicide prevention.  What are you going to do about it?