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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The United Kingdom (01/22/09)

TITLE: Multiple Choice Future
By Sandra DeHoogh


“No way! The bridge is shaking!” The plausibility for such a massive icon as Sydney Harbour Bridge to move was feeding my children’s already overstimulated dispositions. They stood motionless feeling the bounce of the bridge through their bodies, staring at each other in disbelief. In their excitement, they traversed the length of the bridge three or four times compared to me having meandered half way. They were running up and down the footpath like backstitch on a garment. I was amazed. What was it that was so exciting? Adventure? Discovery? Or was it just the new playground that the North Shore provided?

What did it matter? Their exploration allowed me to be a spectator, to retreat from an especially difficult season and to soak in life with, and also beyond, my family. I lagged behind and admired the group of walkers that was three generations of my family. My children living life fully, soaking up each other and enjoying being enjoyed. My parents reliving youthful adventures through the stamina of their grandkids. My husband with his commanding stride; gosh, I’d forgotten he was so .. err… manly. Family are like air aren’t they? Something we cannot live without although almost never applauded.

I chuckled at the timing of these thoughts of my relatives. My great grandmother would have sailed into this very harbour, maybe even right under my feet, some seventy years back. How daunting would that have been? Bringing two small girls alone across an ocean to be reunited with her man. With age and hopefully growing wisdom now on my side, I can appreciate the emotional guts that journey would have taken. Fleeing war, leaving all their family and immigrating into a language they didn’t even understand.

It led me to wonder of how many stories have travelled through this port. My nana sailing from England. My father in-law emigrating from Holland. What did they feel, expect, and hope for? And before them; De Quiros, a Portuguese explorer who called our land “La Australia del Espiritu Santo” or “Southland of the Holy Spirit”. These stories aren’t random but have reached into the future and affected even my destiny. What young girl, separated from her family, looked at squaller on these same shores I see now? She would have come off the planks of a convict ship fresh from England, the country who declared herself mother over “New Holland” over two century’s ago? Would she have believed that her home land would be sailing a ship bearing her Queens name that just squeezes under this colossal coat hanger at low tide?

I appeared to be staring from the bridge right through the Opera House. Mark snuggled in from behind and rested his chin on my shoulder bringing me back from my mental wander. My babies were almost at the end of the bridge now. He must have walked back all this way just to escort me to our tribe. I felt loved but even more so when he offered me a dandelion he’d found growing in the cracks of the walkway. Some would see merely a weed but it was far more to me.

Here was my soul mate, my sojourner, keeping me close to his heart. We were crossing our own bridges, finding our own adventures and discovering substance in life together. Sometimes we find hard times like those in the generations before us. But like this flower which grew through adversity into an amazing, fragrant piece of beauty, we grow in the manure life dumps on us and come out as a sweet aroma, as God’s artwork, as living proof that no matter what life throws at us, we can still choose how we respond. And these choices, good or bad, will outlive us reaching into my children’s childrens generations.

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This article has been read 437 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dee Yoder 01/29/09
It's good to take the time to link our pasts with our present and future. Many of us share a common ancestry that includes the UK.
Jan Ackerson 01/30/09
Very good writing in this piece.

It kind of seemed more like an "Australia" entry than a "UK" one, though.

Another place I hope to visit some day, for sure. Thanks for this well-written entry.
Karlene Jacobsen02/01/09
I love those moments when I can hang back and watch my family on the path, enjoying the youth of my children and the wisdom of my parents.
Good writing.
Gregory Kane02/03/09
Some delightful turns of phrase here, including "They were running up and down the footpath like backstitch on a garment." Also a very clear message of reflection and hopes for the future. But as has been said, the focus isn't really on the UK. One of the things that makes FW so interesting week after week is the way that the topic forces us to write outside of what is familiar. You're obviously a capable writer and I hope you will rise to this challenge in future weeks.
Sandra DeHoogh02/05/09
I'm still fairly new to the challenge and thought the topic only needed a mention. Gives me better direction for next time.