Alex – Haibun Thinking

AnElephantCant be funny this week
The reason is not so mysterious
He tells of a man
He considers a friend
So just this once he writes something serious

AnElephant persists in attacking this great weekly challenge hosted by his friend Al.
Please take a moment to check out this page to see some superb interpretations of the Japanese Haibun, a literary form which explores the relationship between the human experience and nature.
This week as his prompt AnElephant chooses this quote from Gussy the Goose, a character who, he admits with some embarrassment, is previously unknown to him:
Golly, did I hear you say you would be free if you could?

Al the Goose by AnElephantCant

Al the Goose by AnElephantCant


His name was Alex.
As a child in the 1930s he contracted polio, and was trapped by its legacy for the rest of his life.
His right hand was virtually unusable, so he struggled even to sign his name with his left.
His feet were badly misshapen, requiring special footwear.
A typical Glaswegian, he was football crazy, but clearly painfully restricted in participation.
He missed huge chunks of his schooling due to repeated hospital visits.
On leaving, however, and probably because of his cheerful nature, he found a job as an insurance man.
Back then, in the 1950s, this entailed going door to door, climbing tenement stairs, selling insurance and collecting the weekly cash payments.
There is no way of knowing how he endured the constant pain in his feet, trekking through the freezing snow and ice of long Scottish winters, but he did, for 40 years.
He lived his whole life with his mother, my grandmother.
When she died he announced he would retire in two years and move to Mallorca, where he had spent many happy holidays, the milder weather bringing him some relief.
Sure, Alex, great idea, everyone told him, not wanting to dispel his impossible dream.
Two years later he retired and moved to Mallorca, where he lived for the remainder of his too short life in comfort and warmth.

a few years of freedom
small reward
for a lifetime of courage

This entry was posted in Daft Rhymes, haibun and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Alex – Haibun Thinking

  1. Eleni says:

    I am filled with awe and utmost respect for Alex. His life have some valuable things to teach us.


  2. Pingback: Be Free Haibun | Friendly Fairy Tales

  3. helenmidgley says:

    Such a touching tale 🙂


  4. Brenda says:

    I knew people with polio, and they were often stories of the triumph of the spirit over the flesh. What a wonderful tribute for your uncle and your grandmother. I’m sad his final holiday was so short.


  5. aloha AnElephantCant. an elegant write on the harshness that can be this life. as well as meeting it as you say, with courage, as your Alex does. you delivered the core of the quote, imo. i like that. aloha.


  6. Bastet says:

    A lovely haibun…the voyage of this man’s life is beautiful and I’m happy you shared his story.


  7. Lovely sad tale, but good his dream he realised before the end. Lovely haibun dear sir.


  8. What a touching story of persistence. I take it this is true. Is it about your uncle?


  9. Anja says:

    It is remarkable how strong the human spirit can be. I often wonder when I hear about people complain about having a hard day when others struggling with more count their blessings. Wonderful haibun….touched my heart.


  10. emmylgant says:

    There are times when extraordinary endurance, courage and resolute single-mindedness transforms the meek into giants.
    It is with sensitivity, caring, respect and grace that you weave this story which is very moving and humbling.
    I think I can see Alex give a wink and smile in the sunshine.


  11. Al says:

    What a fantastical and sad story. IT’s awesome.


  12. I hope he enjoyed the sun. It’s sad that his wife was not there to share those final years, but at least he had the will to fulfill his own dream even after her death.


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