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Stranger in A Strange World
Lonestray
Posted: Monday, August 18, 2014 9:14 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

My unconventional upbringing has been of great benefit in life. There are also side effects that some would consider disadvantageous. I've never learned to make a friend. No surprising when I never knew family life till I started one of my own.

When I first joined the UK Forces I was at the bottom of the heap, a Messing Orderly. It was uncomfortable to have to make excuses for staying on the base over Christmas, having no place to go.

 Once I found the girl I was to marry, life had a new meaning and purpose. I moved into the Logistic specialist field and within a short period of time I made rapid progress. One Commanding Officer suggested that I was a natural teacher. He proposed that I teach a civilian Logistic qualifying course to a number of men that were about to leave the forces The course was to be undertaken in my spare time, for which I was to be paid extra. Suffice to say the results over time led to my being selected to teach service personnel full time at the School of Logistics.

 At last I'd found a way of freely expressing myself, teaching in my own way. There were times that my methods did not go down well with those in charge, but my results proved exceptional. After a short period I decided to leave the forces when I found there was a demand for my services in the outside world.

Firstly I worked for a top UK firm then moved on to a leading US firm and by the age of 54 I had earned enough to retire in comfort. Sadly our long retirement was no to be without sadness, for with it came the challenge of my wife's Alzheimer's.

My unconventional approach to the illness made life a lot easier to cope with than most people appear to find, especially in the end stages. Once again I chose to approach the illness in my own way. Time and again I refused to accept 'professional' advice and followed my instincts. In so doing I avoided much of the heart break so many suffer.


Jim Broede
Posted: Monday, August 18, 2014 11:12 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


 

 

You are a non-conformist, Patrick. Please take that as a compliment. The world needs more non-conformists.  People who seek new ways. To deal with the issues of life.  You refuse to allow others to define you. You set your own course. When it comes to friendship, don’t underestimate yourself. You have more friends and admirers than you think. Including me. --Jim

 


Jim Broede
Posted: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 2:39 PM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


Haven’t heard from you in a long time, Patrick. I’m going to assume that no news is good news. That you are making the best of your situation. And life. Let us know. You are an inspiration to all of us. Best wishes. --Jim

 


Lonestray
Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2014 3:40 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

Sorry Jim,

 

I've been busy attempting to write my unusual life story. It's no easy task as I've had no formal education. Then there is the fact I lack the basic early life experiences of your world that most people take for granted. Most people grow up in a home with a family and friends and share similar experiences. During my years in all boys State custody from age two to sixteen I knew nothing of the outside world. Because of the shame and stigma attached to having 'served time' I chose to blank out that period of my life.

Now all these years later I'm spending hours pouring over a mountain of official records relating to the circumstances that led to my being charged and sentenced to fourteen years. They paint a social picture, of a culture and period that existed in Ireland.

 

 The world I was shut away from was a very strange one when viewed in to-days context. I hold no bitterness towards the religious orders in who's custody I was placed. They believed in what they were doing. When I appeared in court on Feb. 7th 1934, I've learned that I was accompanied by a seven year old sister. She was sentenced to nine years and served her time close to her home, while I was sent some seventy miles away. When our Father returned to Ireland he was arrested and charged with desertion and failing to support his family. The charges were dropped as his wife under cross-questioning admitted that she had lied at both her children's earlier court hearing.

The Father spent years attempting to regain custody of his children. The best he managed to achieve was to obtain his daughter out on licence. When requested to return the child he refused. Letters passed to and fro between officials and the Father. They threatened Police action, when that failed the authorities resorted to blackmail. The following letter best illustrates the mind set of the Religious State employees; Extracts from just one letter by the Manager of the Industrial School my sister was at, dated 14 August 1937. To our Father:

"When Mother Immaculate Heart, consented to allow your daughter out on licence it was on the understanding that we could revoke the licence at any time, as we are entitled to and recall her to the School. Such a course we consider advisable now, as we have already informed you. We are sorry that you have not complied with our request.

It would be in the best interest of the child to give her the benefit of a good Catholic education and training, which is after all of the greatest importance. Our Divine Lord, Who is wisdom it self has warned that it will profit us nothing to gain the whole world if we lose our souls. No doubt as you say your daughter is receiving a good education at a good school, but the Archbishop sternly forbids his flock to send their children to non-Catholic schools. We know that the voice of the Bishop  is the voice of our Lord Himself for us, for He has told us that, "he who hears you: meaning His Bishops and priests hears Me."

We expect you to return her to the school and hope to hear from you.

Signed Anna Jennings. Manager. My sister was attending a Protestant school.

 

 On reflection it was a very wise move on my part to leave that country and enter your strange new world. I've lived life in my own way as I've had no other option and enjoyed the beauties and wonders of life that were initially denied me.

Some days I don't feel very well, but I'm still running early mornings. Life is for living and learning. The University of life has been both challenging and rewarding plus never ending.

 


Jim Broede
Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2014 11:05 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


 

I suspect, dear Patrick, that it’s more important to know where you are now than where you came from. You are always in now. Never in the past or the future. And you seem to be making the best of the moment. Keep running. Stay on the move. Congratulations. --Jim

 


Lonestray
Posted: Friday, November 14, 2014 9:18 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

Often I wonder what it must be like to have had a conventional upbringing and education. It appears to me that some folk decide to become teachers and other professions, attend college or university to achieve their life's goal. Each class sit a given set of exams and finally end up qualified in their chosen profession.

As I view it, individuals are placed in boxes and anything they wish to know outside the box they seek advice. Teachers go on to teach what they have been taught. It's a continuing process of follow the leader and keep inside the lines of the particular box.

 

When I compare my life journey with those who had a 'good education' and a happy family background, I'm left wondering why I have observed so many short-comings in the conventional world. I've never sought advice. There was no one there for me to turn to. It must be to my great advantage not to notice the barriers of the countless little boxes.

 This strange world I soon realized was made up of those who fish and the fish. To survive I learned it was important to take as much control of my life as was possible and avoid being hooked.

 The large multi-national companies determine who will rule in each country, for without their finance it's impossible. I've never possessed a credit card, paid insurance except for compulsory legal car insurance. As for a mortgage, the longest I had one was a two year period. My answer was to save and with the savings to buy shares in the Insurance, Mortgage Companies and other multi-nationals.

 When we were first married my late wife asked me why I always saved? My answer was: I've no wish to end up like other people when we are old, I want us to live in comfort and to maintain control of our lives. Thank God my vision came true and as a result I was in control when it came to looking after my wife in my own way. Thinking and acting outside of the box has and still is of great benefit. helping.


Jim Broede
Posted: Friday, November 14, 2014 11:22 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


You are self-educated, Patrick. Maybe that’s the best form of education. You’ve allowed yourself to become you. I don’t look at you, as having ‘bad breaks’ in life. Because you have learned to take ‘bad’ and glean good from it. You have become a fascinating and decent human being. You are very much alive. You are in love. With life. Despite the pitfalls and setbacks. You have integrity. It’s been a privilege and an honor to cross your path. --Jim

 


Lonestray
Posted: Saturday, November 15, 2014 2:57 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

Yes Jim, My education has been mainly practical. After many years spent in the Middle East in the 1960s 70s and eighties, I came to know and understand their culture and took the trouble to learn Arabic. Just like every other culture it was evolving. For Western Powers to attempt to impose our values is senseless. It's not unlike an outsider with good intentions attempting to solve a dispute with-in a family. The likely result is that both sides will join up to fight the 'intruder'.

 

Life is made up of so many question. To answer those questions do we follow the leaders? Who laid down the rules as to how we communicate in writing? It's often repeated that each person with Dementia and their care giver are different, yet there is no shortage of advice on offer. The problem though,each patient is an individual. The treatment; medication or otherwise on offer is the same, 'one size fits all'. I've found it best not to give advice, but to relate my personal approach and experiences.

 

My personal perspective, on the 'loss' of a parent may be unusual. One nurse told me how much she missed her Mother, 'lost' her to Alzheimer's. I pointed out: "You have not lost her. Consider who you are? She brought you into the world and for nine months she provided you with blood, food and shared her genes. She breathed life into you. She will remain part of you as long as you live. If ever to wish to get a glimpse of her take a moment or two when you look in the mirror." Her response: "Thank you so much, I never though of it like that."

My wife left me so many riches in the form of our daughter and son who in turn provided us with nine grandchildren.


Jim Broede
Posted: Sunday, November 16, 2014 4:24 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


 

Your postings, dear Patrick. They are delightful. Perceptive. There to be savored. By everyone. The amazing thing. You don’t have to give advice. You live by example. You are being you. And you teach/encourage  me. To be me.  Meanwhile, you are truly alive. How wonderful. --Jim

 


Lonestray
Posted: Monday, November 24, 2014 9:08 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

Yes Jim, I live life my way and what a life I've had. Now at 83 I find there is so very much to still lean each and every day.

Presently I'm writing my life story and in doing so I'm taking the time to understand how my early beginnings impacted on my later life.

 In infant school up to the age of ten, then up to age 14 when my 'education' ended, I had been trained to the best of the 'teachers' ability. I use the word trained rather than taught. In spite of the Nuns' and Christian Brothers' training I learned little or nothing of the subject matter. To this very day I can recite a lot of Latin but haven't a clue as to its meaning.

 English lessons were the most feared. Their idea of teaching us English was to give half an hour to open our books and learn to spell words contained in a dozen or so pages. Time up, books closed, the test began with the boy at the front of the class. He stood up, was asked to spell a word chosen at random from the selected pages by the 'teacher'. A incorrect answer resulted in the boy having to fall out by the side of the class. The word was then passed on to the next boy and so on around the class. The test completed the failed boys lined up at the side of the class, to be punished with the 'strap'.

English 'lessons' were my worst feared. Up to this day I have a reminder of the day I failed at spelling. As each boy in turn received his punishment, the strap broke open and coins flew out! There was a mad dash for the coins. To regain control the 'Teacher' grabbed the pointer and used it with some force to regain control of his 'class'. In the process the thin edge of the pointer broke. He turned it around to strike with thick end of the pointer. Unfortunately I received a crack on the shin which bears a scar to this day.

From those experiences I learned so very much. For one, how not to teach. Two, never accept what I'm told, or what is generally accepted without deciding for myself my best course of action.

No doubt many will find it strange that I ended up in the forces teaching students on all aspects of logistics. It was not my chose to teach but my CO considered I had a talent for it. Again I was 'trained' to be an Instructor. At my first class I was so scared, I wished the ground would open up and I'd disappear. For a moment I forgot the training methods and taught 'my way'. Those short few years were wonderfully rewarded, filled with successful students.

On leaving the forces I was employed by two top international firms to teach and improving systems. I retired in comfort at age 54. The most rewarding challenge was to learn how best care for my wife with Alzheimer's. My early life provided a great advantage in understanding to some degree how my wife felt at times.


Lonestray
Posted: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 9:12 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


My method of teaching like my approach to most things in life, did not follow conventional methods. My first request was that no student raise their hand to my questions. I, would decide who was to answer. When an answer was incorrect, it mattered not. That presented the opportunity to explore the the answer further. In other words the students did the work by explaining how he arrived at his answer. With further questions we arrived at the correct solution. Learning was fun and it was not necessary to 'swat up' on a subject once it was understood.

 Prior to the final exams, I tasked the students with formulating as many question on a given subject. In other words to place themselves in the shoes of those who set the exam papers.

When it came to caring for my wife I adapted a similar approach by imagining what it must feel like to be in her shoes. No doubt I could not completely comprehend her mind-set, but I could understand her not wishing to accept the onset of Alzheimer's. The fear, frustration and anger at signs of losing control of her life. The way people talked fearfully about the illness and instead of the offer of support. Friends and some relatives vanished as she slowly lost parts of her personality. The fear of being 'put away'. Will he still care about me? Will I be left at the mercy of strangers?

Some of these feelings I'm only too familiar with, I was put away in the custody of strangers. In recent years I questioned why no one came to visit me, whilst in State Custody? The answer: 'in those days it was considered to be in the child's best interest that all contact with family members be severed.'

One problem I've lived with most of my life is that I've no sense of direction. There have been occasions when driving along a familiar route I've had to pull over, because I was lost. I've reckoned that to be due to being naturally left-handed and forced to convert to right hand. Like many things in life then I was forced to conform.

To find ones self suddenly lost is very scary. Somehow I feel those suffering with Alzheimer's experience that feeling.

How could I not protect and love all the more the girl who took me on in marriage in her time of most need?      


Jim Broede
Posted: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 10:38 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


You have lived life, Patrick, the way you would have wanted to be treated. From the very beginning.  Decently. Lovingly. They did not make you one of them. Fortunately, you found a true love. Along the way. I wonder. If that is destiny. Your reward. You have fallen in love. With life. Not everyone does.  --Jim

 


Lonestray
Posted: Thursday, November 27, 2014 4:43 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

As I'm in the process of writing my life's story, there is so much to reflect on. On entering this strange world at age sixteen I was lost and struggled to make sense of daily life. Unlike most people I had no one to turn to seek advice. It was also unlikely that I would have sought advice as my life up to that point was governed by being told what to do and when. That had its advantages, in that I was forced to learn for my self by observing daily life about me. Like every thing in life there were disadvantages.

When first I met my wife the question I most dreaded came up: "What about your family?" In response to my answer: "I don't have any." "That's very sad" she remarked. It took a long period of time for me to understand, how rash and insensitive I was in expressing my view on the subject: "It's not sad, what is sad is having parents and knowing that one day they will pass and the pain and heartache one will endure, I can't begin to imagine. I'll never have to go through that experience." It was my way of finding a positive spin of not growing up in a family or home.

In time the true meaning of: "Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all" hit home to me with a vengeance. From the sudden loss of a child, I learned that time was the most precious gift we have. None of us know how much we are allotted. It can't be bought or made, but can be shared to make lasting memories. Time is the best gift on offer.

In my strange world I viewed the arrival of Alzheimer's in our lives as a defining moment in time. There was no cure nor was there a set period of time. I was determined to spend each precious moment at being the best husband I could. I was privileged to have both the mental and physical strength to share our final years at home together without outside help. In the process I witnessed her life painlessly slowly ebb away. The Alzheimer's period in my life was an opportunity to repay the girl that took on this lone stray with love and devotion. It was both a humbling and enriching experience.  


Jim Broede
Posted: Thursday, November 27, 2014 8:21 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


 

Not sure, Patrick, if there is such a thing as ‘best husband.’ Or best of anything. One must just strive to be and define one’s self.  Rather than the ‘best.’ Perhaps life isn’t supposed to be a competition. Though some of my devout capitalist friends won’t agree with me. You have had an amazing life. Learning to be your true self.  Accepting -- and to some extent controlling -- your ultimate destiny. In a grand and glorious and loving and meaningful manner. Also, not sure if I would call  love a ‘repayment.’ Perhaps love is simply love. For love’s sake. --Jim

 


Lonestray
Posted: Thursday, November 27, 2014 8:49 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

Sorry Jim I've not been 'trained' in English just self taught. Like most things in life once I was let free in society that was a jungle it was a case of keep on running. To run from my past and in a hurry to explore. It's no wonder that my wife use to keep saying to me and her friends "Your/he's strange". We were married about three years, it was the early fifties and I was stationed in Germany. One evening we went out to a nearby pub and on our way home there was thick fog and vision was restricted to just a few feet. We came upon a young man laying in the road. He was the worst the wear from drink. I asked Jean to help me up with him and walk him home with us. When we arrived home I could see he was in no condition to make his way home, so I fixed him up with some coffee, bedding and pillow on on couch to sleep for the night. In the morning I fixed him up with breakfast and sent him on his way.

My wife delighted in telling her friends about the strange antics of her husband. At the time it came quiet natural to me, but now I'm not so sure. Good came of the incident. The next time we visited the pub the owner asked : "Is this your wallet?" I'd dropped it as I left the pub on the night in question! He had heard of my good deed and offered us food and drink.