Tag Archives: Good Story

Betrayal by Delinda McCann

 sewer rat

“I still remember the day after the emperor set fire to my portion of the city as if it were yesterday” – Philippe Rouseff on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday.

 

I took my wife to Mass more to please her than from any desire of my own.  I watched as the priest lifted the loaf and intoned the words, “On the night in which he was betrayed…” Bile rose up in my throat at the words.  I knew betrayal.

The Emperor, one of my closest associates—a cousin even, had struck at the heart of my railroad operation in an effort to destroy my family business.  I pressed my lips together to stifle the urge to cry out in anger as the priest held up the cup.  When Christ was betrayed, only one man died.  I wondered how many thousands burned when I was betrayed.

As the faithful shuffled forward to take their bread and sip from the cup, I shifted in my seat and pondered why that bastard crime boss, Wu, a better man than my cousin, had sent his wife to my offices to warn one of the bookkeepers about the impending purge.  As the bookkeeper raced from the building, she screamed, “Fire! The army is coming! Fire! Flee!”  Who else had been warned that the emperor’s army marched against the city?  Who had time to flee?

I had no desire to spend a Sunday afternoon working, but at three in the afternoon, I met with two railroad supervisors to survey the damage to almost a square kilometer of the city.  We drove up to the deserted M’TK station.  Blowing ash shifted and settled after the passage of my car.  My stomach churned as I wondered how many of my employees’ ashes mixed and blew among the debris of burned buildings?

The brick and slate train station still huddled beside the tracks.  Soot now stained the red bricks the same black as the rest of the borough.  We stood and looked over the desolation—nothing moved, nothing lived.  I wanted to hope that some of my people survived, but hope refused to kindle here among the ruins.  The workers were only indigenous northerners, laborers, but they stocked my warehouses and loaded my trains.

The Central Region supervisor looked up. “What the hell?”

I followed his eyes and soon made out a string of boxcars, pulled by a gerry-rig, slowly rolling toward the station.  Filled with the horror that lay around me, I stared transfixed at the approaching apparition.  If I were a superstitious man, I’d have turned and fled in fear of death and ghosts.  I refused to take my eyes off of this small sign of life.

When the rig with it’s string of boxcars towering above it rolled to a stop at the station the operator, dressed in railroad coveralls, lifted a woman down from the first boxcar.  A young boy about ten jumped to the ground.  This family appeared to be like any other of the northern poor—dirty and ragged.

The man introduced himself as the assistant stationmaster.  He unlocked the station for us and assured us that he had locked the station’s ticket money in the safe.  He seemed respectful enough.  He kept his eyes lowered as custom dictated for a man of his station.

I heard the eagerness in my voice,  “Have you seen signs that some of my people survived?

“I haven’t seen anybody within a kilometer of the station.  Wu warned me so I had time to move the equipment.  I suppose others had time.”

I shook off my melancholy for a moment.  “Listen, you saved my equipment and the money in the station.  I must give you a reward.  What do you want?”

The man answered immediately.  “The stationmaster ran away when he heard about the army.  I stayed long enough to save your equipment.  Give me the stationmaster’s job and let me live here with my family.”  For the first time, the man looked me in the eye. The sharp intelligence I saw in the eyes of a northerner surprised me.  The man’s humility returned when he asked for help to assist his cousin from the train.

Curious about the new stationmaster, I helped lift his wheelchair-bound cousin from the boxcar.  I almost recoiled from the reek that still clung to the air inside the car.  I recognized the stench that is created when many unwashed bodies are packed close together.  I picked up a small piece of waste paper flecked with fish scales.  The evidence before my eyes and nose told me that many people, probably northerners with their love of fish, had very recently been packed into this car.  In my mind, I saw people filling the boxcars to flee from the fire.  I suspected that my new stationmaster had his own reasons for his secrecy, but the knowledge that my workers had survived settled into my heart.

I turned to the humble man beside me and forgot a lifetime of lessons about the indigenous people from the north.  I suddenly saw not a worthless, northern laborer but a man created in the image of God.  I saw the man who had saved my people, a man of honor and compassion.  I wondered if he thought of me as just an oppressive Southerner.

I reached out to shake the stationmaster’s hand, fearful for the first time in my life of being rejected…

 

Submitted by Delinda McCann

This story is told from a different perspective in the book M’TK Sewer Rat: End of an Empire. This is the first record of Mr. Rouseff’s side of the story of the day he met his longtime friend Jacob Jaconovich, then the assistant stationmaster.

 Delinda Mcann

Author Bio

Delinda McCann is a social psychologist who has worked in the field of developmental disabilities for over twenty years.  She has served on committees for the state of Washington and been an educational advisor to other governments. She has published four books Lies That Bind, M’TK Sewer Rat: End of an Empire, M”TK Sewer Rat: Birth of a Nation, and Something About Maudy.

 

Links

http://delindalmccann.weebly.com/index.html

WHEN A STROKE IS MORE THAN A STROKE by Linda Hales

Linda Hales blog article

WHEN A STROKE IS MORE THAN A STROKE

In honor of my late daughter Tammy, who wore her inner child
on the outside…every day in every way.

Let me tell you about a young woman of thirty-two who had everything to live for.  Tammy had a career she loved and was engaged to Nick, a handsome police officer who professed that she was the love of his life.  She was the picture of good health and met each day with boundless energy.  Well then, just imagine this.  Tammy arose for work one morning, showered and made her bed only to turn down the covers and get back in.  This is a story about feeling good one moment and never feeling the same again.  It’s the story of a devastating event that occurred on March 5th, 1998 and changed her life forever.

Thinking she might have the flu, Tammy took her first day ever off work, fretting about how her clients would fare if they were short staffed at the hospice where she worked.  She taught life skills to assist young quadriplegic adults, many who had been born with severe cerebral palsy and others with equally physically challenging conditions.  She made it her mission in life to put a smile on their faces even when they were having a bad day, and she was so good at it.  Nick stopped me as I was leaving for work to let me know that he was off duty that day and would stay with her and let her rest.

When I returned home that evening, I sensed that something wasn’t right.  Their cars were in the driveway yet no one was home.  Were they out walking the dog or visiting a neighbor?   Then the phone rang.  It was my sister.  She told me to stay put, that she would be right over.  And in just two minutes Kim was at the door to break the news that Tammy had been rushed by ambulance to the hospital and that she had possibly suffered a stroke.  Earlier that afternoon, Nick had noticed that Tammy’s right hand was tightly clenched and that she was unable to speak. His police and emergency training had taught him that this meant serious trouble, so he immediately called 911.

My sister drove me to the hospital, wanting to stay by my side through this nightmare.   We were hurried into a case room where Tammy laid helpless.  She was paralyzed on the right side and was semi-conscious.  As I held her, she was shaking, and tears filled her eyes, and I sensed how frightened she was.   She was still my little baby, even if she was thirty-two years old.

Tammy’s CAT scan revealed that she had suffered a massive brain hemorrhage in the left frontal lobe, something which explained her total right side paralysis.  She was immediately transferred to St. Michael’s, Toronto’s top trauma hospital, where a team of five doctors, including a renowned neurosurgeon, prepared to perform a frontal lobe craniotomy on her.  She was out of surgery by 1 a.m. but remained in a coma in the trauma unit for a week. She was hooked up to every manner of monitor imaginable, including a pressure probe in her brain.  A Doppler ultrasound machine was brought to her bedside to monitor for blood clots that were forming quickly despite the blood thinners she was on.  Tammy’s surgeon explained that her hemorrhage had the same residual effect as a stroke.  She suffered brain damage, paralysis, a degree of aphasia and double vision.  He ruled out an aneurysm but believed a brain tumour had ruptured and bled, though he couldn’t prove it from the pathology.  In the end he promised to get to the bottom of it but feared that the tumour was likely an incurable oliodendroglioma―which always grows back in time.

Next came Step Down care.  Step Down was a semi-intensive care unit where Tammy stayed for two weeks before being transferred out to a Rehabilitation hospital to relearn how to walk and talk.  She wanted to come home so desperately and outdid herself to speed up her recovery.  After just three days she was walking with a special cane, and it wasn’t more than two weeks before she was allowed to return home to continue her physical therapy and recovery.  The worst was over and she seemed to be out of the woods.  The next months brought multiple therapies such as speech and strategies to help her overcome the linear after effects of her brain damage.  Despite her deficits, Tammy had seemingly regained her health. She set about enjoying her life as though nothing had ever happened.

Tammy’s positive outlook continued until one day when she suffered a major dizzy spell accompanied by a minor seizure.  Her surgeon ordered more scans, including an MRI. Sadly, it was diagnosed that she had a tumour, and we were told it had indeed been the cause of her original hemorrhage.  It was growing rapidly and within two weeks, she was being treated at the Brain Tumour Clinic at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto.  Her doctor didn’t risk anything that even remotely resembled surgery, not even a biopsy.  She started with oral chemotherapy which continued for eighteen months.  When chemo was no longer effective, numerous trial drugs were administered and, finally, massive radiation treatment.  This was when Tammy lost her hair, but that was the least of her worries.   To those who loved her, she was beautiful anyway.  Her spirits were high and she vowed to beat the odds because she had too much to lose.  She remained optimistic and lived a full life to the extent that she was able.

It was in March, 2003, nearly five years to the day of the first event, that a final prognosis was given.  Tammy was running out of time and would be lucky to make it to the end of the summer.   We were advised to prepare ourselves for that.

Now, didn’t I say that Tammy wore her inner child on the outside?  After sharing the heartbreaking news with me, I chose that time to ask Nick to make an honest Mother-in-Law out of me.  Without missing a beat Tammy immediately dropped to her knees and proposed to her sweetheart.  Nick was completely caught off guard and dropped to his knees to accept (Had she waited one more minute, he was going to propose to her anyway).  He then reached into his pocket, brought out a ring and placed it on her finger.  They were married in June, and I finally became the Mother of the beautiful bride and an honest Mother-in-Law to Nick.  They said their vows in the Toronto police chapel and celebrated with an elegant reception at our home with close family and friends.

Utter happiness and hope helped Tammy to surpass the timeline she had been given for another thirteen months.  She simply had too much to live for and refused to let go.  Tammy gave it her best shot, but the inevitable deterioration won out.  Her paralysis returned. And she became more child-like with every passing day.  Tammy spent her remaining time in a hospital bed with home care until it was her time to go.  She suffered a final hemorrhage and spent her last day and night in palliative care.

Tammy left us on July 22nd, 2004.  In that final moment, I understood that I had come full circle.  I was with her for her first breath and by her side for her last.   She had given us six precious years and now it was her time to rest.  I had to come to terms with that.

Of course, much living existed between these lines, but I offer this as a small tribute to my daughter who taught me so much about integrity of spirit and how important it is to never let go of your inner child.  She maintained an uplifting sense of humor throughout her young life, and I decided to honor her by creating my Sunshine series of children’s books, dedicating them to her memory.  Her smile lit up my life and so many more who loved and knew her.  If my books make even one child happy, then I am honoring her memory well.

BIO  

Linda Hales is retired and devotes her time to writing in various genres for both freelance and pleasure.  Her greatest passion is writing motivational stories for young children.  Linda has self-published two Sunshine books, an Activity Story Book and Andy-Roo which was recently awarded the 2013 Kart Kids Book List award for Creative Storytelling.   Learn more about Linda and her books at:

Website:  http://www.linnieslittlebooks.com.

All books are available on Amazon

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