Good Reading : August 2011
www.goodreadingmagazine.com good reading august 2011 52 reader’s life 2 A child’s mind at an early age tracY aLeXander underwent a traumatic experience and had to assume a huge responsibility. now studying journalism at macleay college in sydney, tracy was asked to write a memoir as a feature-length article. Her story looks at the way a child perceives and deals with the frightening and confusing situation of when a parent becomes gravely ill. drawing the spoon from my father’s mouth, I collected the excess soup spilling over his lips, like one would do with a baby. I wondered if it tasted like the nursing home smelt. Surely not. While the nurses had been known to leave my dad sitting in his own faeces for per iods long enough to destroy even a dog’s dignity, they wouldn’t go so far as to serve urine flavoured soup – would they? Trying my hardest to prop him up in his wheelchair, I tugged and pulled at the dead weight of my dad’s shoulders, wanting to relieve the pressure on his backside that I could see was distressing him. It was no mean feat for a girl who was only 10 years old. Dinner with my father hadn’t always looked this way. I already had distant memories of the days that I had sat around the dining room table, staring down with defiant determination at my Little Bo Peep plate covered in food: ‘Ok spaghetti. It’s you or me.’ The mission was simple – eat enough dinner so that the poor shepherdess could come up for air and wipe her bow-adorned staff clean of par mesan cheese. The impetus was not, however, to save Miss Peep from drowning in tomato sauce, (while, of course, that was important), but rather to hear those magic words come out of my father’s mouth: ‘I’m so proud of you.’ It was enough to make my chest puff out so far as to almost knock my little sister off her chair. I watched his white, icy-cold body being whisked past me and four men laying him down on the back seat of the car, and it made me feel as if I were completely out of my body.Was that fear I could see in his eyes? Or was it just a projection of my own fear? As the door closed on him I tapped on the window, pressed both palms onto the glass and with absolute purpose said, ‘I love you Dad!’ His eyes remained glazed over and confused, staring at the ceiling. He didn’t look at me. Did he hear me? My dad never came home.