My Grandfather (born 1901)
came to Australia in 1913 from Carluke, Lanarkshire, with his family, to
settle in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. He began coal mining soon after
that, with his father and I believe his older brothers.
On one fateful day in 1922
(? I think) he had a coal wagon ran over his ankle almost severing it. He
was taken to hospital where the head surgeon told him they would take it
off, but he said "No, It's still attached to me and I want to keep it!"
A then bright young intern pleaded to do all
that was possible to keep the leg, and he was put in charge on the basis
that as soon as things looked bad, it would come off. That intern
eventually became one of Australia's better recognised Surgeons.
I don't know if Grand-dad was stubborn,
believed in God, or just too tight to let it go, but he survived as did
the foot, albeit now 2" shorter than the other leg.
He spent a year in hospital, and with no
income his only pastime was to read the intern's medical texts and
practice massage on his own leg. He returned to work as a coal miner, and
became a top Rugby League "strapper" sending some players back on the
field when others were convinced they had broken bones, and taking some
off even though they did not yet realise they were "broken", such was his
medical knowledge and skills, learned by himself, lying in his hospital
bed, massaging his own pitiful black ankle. (embedded with coal dust).
"Old Bob" Harper lived a great life, fathered
a great and extensive family, and I would like everybody who reads this to
know what a stubborn Scot can achieve.
As a final comment on the link to his
heritage, at the end of his life, and even though his body was failing, he
began speaking in Gaelic, and even singing in Gaelic. For the last hour or
so we were unable to talk with him and thought his mind had gone, until a
chipper young Scottish lass, a trainee nurse, came into the room and said
"He's in fine voice for an old fella, I haven't heard that sung for
It was at
that moment that we realised Grand-dad was truly going home.
Harper (3rd Generation Bob - 1/4 Scot and bloody proud of it!)