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Old Scots Don't Die! They go Home!
By Bob Harper


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 years."

It was at that moment that we realised Grand-dad was truly going home.

by Bob Harper (3rd Generation Bob - 1/4 Scot and bloody proud of it!)


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