A theatre company from Verona were in Australia and for two nights they were performing Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince at the local Italian football club. For $15 you got a meal, dessert and a play. Bargain. Two men took to the little stage: parents sitting at the tables sated after finishing fine bowls of pasta, kids perched on the floor in front of the stage. Simply by cutting pieces of paper into a series of shapes these two men drew us into this beautiful tale. A tale of friendship, good deeds, sacrifice, hardship and the ultimate happy ending. In a mix of English and Italian, with much humour and enthusiasm we were all taken away and ensconced in this beautiful story.
I may have had to negotiate many damned tricky stairs on my crutches to get there - but to see the look of delight on my daughter and my niece's face was worth it. And, not-so-secretly, it was totally worth it for this big kid too. I might be walking on crutches - but I will be off them soon and back to normal. I might never play netball again, but I've had years of playing fun behind me - and years of coaching to look forward to.
Walking in someone else's shoes, or in my case, in crutches really makes you consider the hardships so many people undergo daily. My grandfather was involved in a serious motorbike accident when he was 18 or 19. It smashed his knee severely and he spent the rest of his life using a cane or crutches to get around. Every. Day. He lived to his 80s so that's 60 years of never rising easily from a chair, and awkwardly negotiating steep, narrow stairs that are barely wide enough for a foot, let along a foot and two crutches. My pain can be dulled by nurofen, he lived with pain every day. But he still lived a full life. He used to go out the front of his house, dive in the lake a swim a mile every day before breakfast until the last few years of his life. He drove his ute around town with his beloved dog Missy in the back, he went away on shooting trips with his friends and he laughed. A lot.
He cooked a mean stew, and always had a spoonful of honey in his tea from an enormous bucket that was kept on the kitchen bench. He lit the open fire every day and toasted bread on a long, home-made toasting fork. He smoked a pipe or rolled a cigarette and sat in the same chair in the corner - the one with the best view down the hill and over the lake.
I miss him. His advice still rings in my head. He taught me about financial responsibility and about what's important in life. He called me "Iddles" or "Uncumfoodles" and my daughter "The Perfect Baby". I still have two treasured photos of four generations of my family: my daughter, me, my dad and my Poppa.
He was my Happy Prince.