Some days break us. As a boy I was broken on ward G2 and my whole family watched. My Mum stood on his left side, to tend his Lilies. My Gran sat in the chair on his right and held his hand. My Aunt, Uncle and cousin guarded the foot of his death bed. When we arrived it took me a full minute to stumble upon his reduced aspect. Recognition kicked me professionally in the guts. I expected the countenance of the man I'd grown up with, but the sight of this broken, shivering, shrunken, shell winded me to abstraction. All the small things suddenly became large. I studied the clustering dust scuttle under the next bay. Reviewed innocent rain riding the wind, like a playground ride, and, waving playfully, issue clutches of clouding crossfire. I revised his, now shrivelled, fingers, pointing, as usual, at my growing pains. Time caught up with me and bullied me into the inevitable conversation. His eyes settled cooly upon me as I consulted the ceiling, the wall, my watch, the hole in my jeans. How was I‽ How is it going at University‽ If I appeared on University Challenge: Nathan Cocker Reading: Maturity. My inevitable scratching soon ceased when the repeating machine fell silent, synchronised with his pain. I found him then. His eyes closed, but he pointed eternally on. I was still and dry but the change stared me straight so I packed away all my toys, sharpened the razor for my first shave and the pieces of childhood fell away and I walked out a broken man.
Walt Whitman, American Poet, Essayist and journalist, was born today in 1819.
Clint Eastwood, American actor, filmmaker, musician and politician, was born today in 1930.
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