Anzac Day is getting harder for me as every year passes. I am standing by helpless as one of the most admirable, dignified and courageous people I have ever known sails quietly towards the end of his days. The final years of a life is a time for reflection and over the last 4 years, since my pop suffered a massive stroke, I have had plenty of opportunity to think about his life.
The Anzac Spirit was forged on the battlefields of WW1. It was the reputation the Anzacs had for loyalty, mateship and skill on the battlefield but it was also mixed with cheekiness, mischief, and good humour. The generation that fought in WW1 have all passed and the generation that fought in WW2 is passing too. As the last of the WW2 diggers age and die, I wonder if the Anzac Spirit still has a place in today’s society. A society that feels a world away from the one my grandparents grew up in.
My pop, Jack Wade, was a commando, a “digger”, a scrappy nugget of a man with a cheeky sense of humour and the respect of everyone he ever met. He was the embodiment of the Anzac Spirit. He fought in WW2 in New Guinea in the 2nd/3rd Commando Squadron in the Australian Army. All the men volunteered to join knowing they might not come home, because that’s what you did back then.
We weren’t told a lot about this time or what it was like when he returned home, as it wasn’t discussed much. Continue reading
Sometimes I get to the end of the day and realise the day has been full of tiny moments when my heart has nearly stopped at how adorable Wade is. Moments when I have to try and remember if I ever really knew how to feel anything before he came along. Moments when I stop and think….we made him. He wasn’t here before and now he is. Moments I’m sure every parent feels when they watch their child develop personality traits uniquely their own. Traits that we didn’t teach him, they just came from within him. So this is a shameless, self-indulgent, cheesy, gooey list of things that make me go squee about Wade….just because.
1. The Public Squirm Test
Going out in public with Wade is something that I have to allow extra time for. Mostly because I am stopped several times a day to discuss at length the deep level of cuteness this kid emanates but often it is because Wade will make a beeline for someone and single them out as “The Greatest Living Person on the Planet…for Now”. Wearing a hat or glasses will increase your chances but often he just spots someone that he decides is awesome and will go and meet them. Buskers need a strong sense of self too as Wade will walk right up to them and stand at their feet, staring up into their eyes as they perform. I get such a kick out of watching said person work out what to do or say when they look down and notice Wade peering up at them. I’ve written before about the peace that surrounds him. He is comfortable in his own skin. He is neither shy nor confident…he just is. He will just stand there and absorb them. A lot of people have no idea what to with that. After the obligatory, “Hey there little guy, aren’t you cute” there is usually a wordless conversation of smiles and waves before it starts to get weird for the poor person. I like to leave it just that little bit too long before I head over to give them back their personal space! Adorable.
As a blogger, sometimes I feel like I talk the talk rather than walk the walk. It’s one thing to tell the world from the safety and comfort of my couch about respect for people with disabilities and it’s another thing entirely to tell it to someone’s face. I’ve written before about my difficulty in finding the right words when people use inappropriate language but I’m bigger and uglier now. Today I decided to step up.
I took Wade to the park to feed the ducks, today. I’ve been so proud of him lately. His communication and comprehension has been coming along in leaps and bounds since I’ve been home more and we have started using more sign language. We got out of the car and wandered over to the lake with our bread in hand. I was telling him about the ducks and he his signing “duck” all the way along the path as well as waving to every passer-by. After watching the ducks peck around his feet and listening to the sweet sounds of him trying to say “quack quack!”, we headed over to the play equipment. It’s such a great park because the designers have included many features for kids with disabilities. There are sensory areas and sign posts with the names of objects including the sign language and Braille. The swing area has a bucket swing for babies but it also has a full body chair swing with a harness for kids who need support of their whole body to enjoy it. I particularly like the slides as there is no ladder to climb. The slides go down a steep hill and the kids climb the hill to get to top.
Brimming over with pride I spent ages watching Wade scramble and scrabble up the hill to the top of the slide then get himself up to the top and sit down. He couldn’t quite work out how to shuffle his little bum off the edge so I helped him and then he went down the slide all by himself. He got to the bottom and signed “more” so I turned him around and told him to climb up. Up again he went then wandered off when he got to the top. He walked over to a guy to say hi and look at his shoes then stood next to a bush and experimented with stepping into the shade, then in to the light, then into the shade again. He let the bush brush past his hands to see what it felt like then wandered back to the top of the slide again. I was lost in the moment as I watched him looking out at all the people in the park and wondering what he was thinking about….
….then from behind me I hear “That’s the retarded swing for people like you!!” Continue reading