They were poor but happy enough, and one of their jobs was to chop wood for the fuel stove.


They took it in turns but generally they would all pitch in as this was a satisfying job. A large pile of wood was evidence that you had been there.
Brothers can be rough and ready even at the best of times, and although it happened more than a hundred years ago and the story suffers from being strained through a lot of people’s memories, it seems that while chopping wood a piece flew into the eye of the brother named Ansel.
If it had happened now, someone would have bundled the boy into a car, and hospital staff would have assessed the injury. With a bit of luck, his injury would have healed leaving him with only a story to tell.
But this was a time before cars and doctors were rare and often lived a long way away.
The boy lost the use of his eye.
I’m sure that his brothers were affected by what happened, and his parents were upset, but this was a time when much worse things happened on a regular basis. In some ways, it was a miracle that the boys grew up to be men as many children died in childhood. Families would often have ‘extra’ children to compensate for the expected deaths. Maybe Ansel’s injury was such that he would have lost the use of his eye in any case, but I cannot help but think that the time he lived in contributed to his disability.


He must have been devastated.
I remember when I was told at age 8 that I needed to wear glasses. My world seemed to be collapsing around me.
I thought that I would not be able to run, swim or play Footy ever again!


I thought that the kids at school would make fun of me and in this regard, I only felt a bit better when the message came back that the older boy who lived across the road promised to belt anyone who made fun of me!
Ansel probably felt the way I did, but as often happens this misfortune turned out to be a blessing.
In fact, it saved his life.


When World War One broke out, Ansel’s two brothers signed up as most young men did at that time. One brother fought at Gallipoli and survived, only to die in France. The other brother saw action but died of disease as many of our soldiers did. Ansel was not accepted into the army due to his disability and went on to father five daughters and a son.


His troubled son signed up to fight in World War Two, received the second highest bravery award, survived the War, came home, fathered two sons and a daughter.


One of those sons is writing this now.
A simple childhood accident allows several generations to live their lives and tell their stories.
I met Ansel a few times.
We didn’t like each other very much.
Probably because we were a bit too much alike.
Neither of us ‘suffered fools gladly.’


As I do with all my ancestors, I owe my existence to Ansel, my grandfather.
He came to me in a dream and warned me not to let my arrogance get out of control.
Good advice.
Thanks, granddad.

16 thoughts on “A TALE OF THREE BROTHERS

  1. Pingback: The Rat | araneus1

  2. Not just your own story, but I wonder how many lives around the world have been changed by war.
    I know my Mother’s was.


  3. What an interesting story, and with an important point that I often need reminding of:sometimes what seems like the end of the world can often be the best thing that ever happened to you. Was Ansel a first generation Australian? I haven`t heard that name before and wonder about its origin.


    • Yes, as far as I know he was first generation. His surname is Norwegian and the family traces it origins back to the Viking settlements in Somerset, England. When I was a kid one of our ancestors did a family tree and got in touch with my mum. My branch of the family has a slight chance of being left out because my surname [and Christian name] was changed when I was adopted [by my aunty]. There is also a strong Irish connection on my grandmother’s side and a bit of Spanish as well. Aussies tend to be a bit of a mix.


  4. The realities you describe bring us back to earth, Terry. We have so much to be grateful for but so many of us don’t recognise it. Sad! It’s funny as I now represent ophthalmologists (eye surgeons) and incidents like Ansel’s are now corrected so readily. And nice to know you’ve got a bit of mongrel (mixed heritage for anyone not Australian!) in you. No wonder you are so attached to your dogs! Cheers, David.


    • My first year as a primary school teacher I discovered that one of my ‘naughtiest’ and most loveable boys was deaf in one ear. Being extremely inexperienced it took me most of the year to pick it up! This was the year before Medicare came in and his mum was too poor to take him to the doctor to treat an ear infection and so he permanently lost the hearing in that ear.
      As a result I get a little angry when people want to bag the Whitlam Government, one deaf boy is enough.
      But then I remember the story from ‘Think and Grow Rich’, where the author was determined that deafness was not going to define his little boy and as a result of his fathers positive attitude and determination his son went on to be a success in life instead of an invalid.
      So many stories, so many lessons, so many near misses. It’s fun to spend time working out what they all mean.
      Thank you for taking the time to comment.


      • Yeah, poor bloody Gough. I was a staunch ALP lad back then though I have been immersed in the conservative side for decades now (though I’ve had a gutful of them, too). God, we are poorly served. But for all his failings, Gough was the quintessential bright-eyed idealist. His reformist zeal was amazing and it seared my soul to witness Fraser undo almost all of it bit by bit. And, now, here’s Fraser as a bloody rampant Greenie further to the left than Gough ever was. Has the world gone mad, Terry?

        And you demonstrate through your ‘loveable’ descriptor that Master Hard of Hearing did not suffer too much at your hands. Good onya.


  5. Pingback: Armistice. | spidersweb

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