Family Troubles? The life of a chronically ill child and the effect of his disease on his family's fortunes

Pictures of a family.

The young boy.
The young boy.
The sisters who adored him.
The sisters who adored him.
The devoted parents.
The devoted parents.

Introduction. Understanding troubled children


As the everyday family lives of children and young people come to be increasingly defined as issues of international policy and concern, it is of great importance to raise the question of how we can learn to understand the contested terrain between ‘normal’ family troubles and troubled and troubling families. To understand the trials and tribulations of families in the modern age, it is first necessary to go back into history, and read of the difficulties suffered by one particular family, with a special emphasis on how they affected one disabled child within our target family.


A short description of a troubled child

The mother was very worried. Her son, who had a serious blood disease, was at thirteen years, at that awkward age when parental admonishments to be careful, and not to run or jump too much, fell on deaf ears. How can you tell a boisterous somewhat spoiled young boy that he cannot play like other children? You can't tie him up just to keep him quiet. Thirteen years previously when he was born, the mother and father had been overjoyed. They already had four lovely daughters who they adored, but they longed for a son. She remembered his baptism. The poor child cried throughout the ceremony. Perhaps this was a sign of things yet to come. Although it was customary for the parents not to attend the christening, the mother had been worrying throughout that someone might let the baby fall, or that the archbishop, who really was very old, might drop him in the font. There were no mishaps on that day; but there were plenty to come in the future.

The little boy was absolutely adored by all his family. His four sisters were enchanted with the idea of having a little brother. The dolls often got abandoned, so they could enjoy the more actively fun games of soldiers and building toy forts. He was an affectionate child as well. Always wanting to hug his parents and siblings, although everyone was mindful not to squeeze back too strongly, for too much pressure on his delicate body might bring on an internal bleed and his agony when that happened was almost too much for his loving family to bear.

He could be a stroppy child as well occasionally. The frustrations of coping with the restrictions placed on him by his illness sometimes manifested themselves in temper tantrums. A couple of times he had struck out at people who were greeting him. Then the embarrassed parents had to explain that he was "a mischievous child”. He really could be a bit naughty sometimes. Once, at an important dinner, he had crawled under the table and taken the shoe of a very distinguished female guest. When his father had ordered him sternly to return the trophy, he did so, but not before putting some squashed strawberries in it. Sometimes he gave the impression that he did not expect to live long. Once one of his sisters found him just lying on the grass looking up at the clouds as they floated across the sky. When she asked him what he was doing, he replied that he was taking in things while he still could.

How the illness of the child impacted on the fortunes of his family

Of course the torture of having such a sick child drove the parents to desperate lengths, in hopes of getting a cure. They even resorted to faith healers. There was one man in particular who always seemed to have a positive effect. He would pray with the parents, and give them advice not to let the doctors bother their son too much. He always brought a kind of peace, and often the pain would completely subside, and the child would be able to smile and run around again. Once a telephone call from him effected a cure. The mother especially came to depend on this healer. She started to treat him like a much loved family friend. He did take advantage sometimes, and he tended to give a lot of advice on how the father should conduct his business. This was often very bad advice. The friend might be a great healer, but he knew nothing about running a big organisation, so his advice tended more to run affairs into the ground than to prosper them. The husband kind of realised that things were not going too well, but he was incapable of refusing his wife's requests, and she took all her advice from the faith healer.

It didn’t help that the family and their entire country was embroiled in a great war. The father had to spend a lot of his time away from home. The mother took charge of managing domestic affairs. She did not do very well. She relied too much on the advice from the healer, and that advice was seldom very good. Her husband was out of touch because of his work in the war, so things deteriorated rapidly. The family and friends of the couple got increasingly concerned. Eventually they got together, and they murdered the faith healer. They hoped in this way that they could reverse the decline in the family fortunes.

But they were too late. The husband lost his job.

For a time the father and mother, and their five children, were allowed to stay in the family home. The man who had replaced the husband was a reasonable person, and he hoped to secure retirement for the family abroad. But there was difficulty in finding them a place to go. Later in the year they were sent to stay in a house in the country. They were still quite comfortable, but things were due to change for the family again.

Towards the end of the year the reasonable man lost his job as well. He was replaced by some people who had a hatred of the couple and all their relations. Restrictions were put on their movements. They had previously been watched by considerate and respectful guards. These were now replaced by representatives of the new management. The level of respect, and consideration sharply declined. They were now confined to the house, and the daughters were often subjected to lewd remarks. (They were remarkably attractive young girls).

In May of the following year they were all moved again. This time they were confined in a house with a large wooden palisade round it, so they couldn’t see out, and nobody could see them. This was really more a prison than a home. They were treated with even less regard than before. The soldiers even stayed in the room when the prisoners were going to the toilet. They still had a few attendants with them, including a doctor to help look after the young boy. It was just as well that they had a medical man on hand, for the young lad had a compulsion to tempt fate. In the previous house he had ridden on a sledge down the stairs and injured himself badly. He was now confined to a wheelchair.

The final tragedy for the child and his entire family

In a city, far away from where our family were confined, some evil men debated their fate. There had been a war raging in the country, and there were some who wanted to restore the husband to his position, and get rid of the wicked people who were now managing affairs. The friends of the family were getting very close to where they were being kept. It was only a matter of time until their freedom would come. But allowing people freedom was not what the new managers were about. An order was transmitted to the authorities in the prison house.

In the prison the prisoners were getting increasingly apprehensive. They knew that rescue might not be far away, but there had been talk of the husband being separated from them. Some people said he might be put on trial. There was one thing they were looking forward to though. Their beloved son and brother was but two weeks away from his fourteenth birthday. They might not have much, but they would try to celebrate. There was a new commandant in the prison/house. He was more respectful, but a bit creepy.

On the 17th of July they were all woken up in the middle of the night. They were told that they were about to be moved again. Somebody directed them to a room in the basement, where they were to wait for the transport. All the family and their attendants went to the room. The father carried his sick son, as the boy was too ill to walk. The mother asked for some chairs to be brought in so some of them could sit.

They waited in the dingy basement.

Some men with handguns entered.

The commandant came into the room.

He announced that the father, the mother, the four beautiful daughters, the servants, the doctor, and the very sick son, had been sentenced to death.

The father was the first to be shot, a bullet straight to the head.

They then started shooting the rest of the group.

The young girls ran around the room. The bullets didn’t kill them straightaway.

The son did not die instantly either.

One of the assassins came up to the struggling child.

He was shot twice in the head.

He did die then.

The daughters and the mother were finished off with bayonets.

When the corpses of the family, the servants, and the doctor were stripped, it was found that jewels were sewn into the corsets of the girls and their mother, and also into the shirt of the dead boy. That was what made them so difficult to kill.

It was further noticed that the body of the boy bled rather a lot, but this was only to be expected, for as history tells us The Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich, beloved son of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Tsarina Alexandra, and also the much loved brother of Grand Duchesses' Marie, Tatiana, Olga, and Anastasia was a haemophiliac.

Scenes from the life, and death, of a family.

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Comments 15 comments

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

How excruciatingly poignant. I had goosebumps as I read it and when the family's identity was revealed, they increased. What a sad waste of lovely people. Your clever narrative making it seem like a more or less ordinary family threw me off! I didn't even recognize the dastardly, treacherous, greedy, charismatic Rasputin, as his character was indelibly impressed on me when I was much younger from a film about the Romanovs. I suppose the truth of his role in the entire debacle is forever hidden in the past.

Anyway - you've created another marvelous read and I hung on every word, dear Christopher! At first I even thought it might be your own story. The young Alexei resembles you a bit. :-) However when the parents' picture came up, it was obviously both too long ago and their attire seemed too ostentatious. But what did I know? Perhaps your Dad served in the military in some colonial area. Or perhaps the young Alexei was your grandfather. My imagination went wild! LOL Great story-telling. Yup.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

I,m really pleased you liked that story Nellieanna. Oddly enough, I did look a little like him when I was young, but a lot untidier. The fact that he looks like just any little boy adds to the poignancy of his story.

The same with his sisters. You can just imagine them in a fit of girly giggles. Of course The Tsar was almost always in uniform, so no photo could disguise who he was.


Donna Suthard profile image

Donna Suthard 5 years ago

How sad for the Romanov family! I wondered when I was reading this, if it could have been the Tsar and their family. Especially the time period pictures of early 1900"s. I remember watching the movies "Dr.Zhivago" and "Red" It reminded me of that..some of the pictures looked ghostly..thank you for a well written story


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Thank you Donna. Of course it was a sad time then for a lot of people, but their story, as a family, was especially so.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Christopher - I'm such a history buff that I can't resist getting more books about any kind of history, though I've certainly not read all those I have! Started on Durant's "Story of Civilization" years ago, but my life turned upside down while I was into Volume 6 & one loss of the upturn was all of my set (which hadn't yet been fully expanded. The Durants were still writing!) My ex had no interest whatsoever in the books - in fact he resented my "getting ideas" from reading them, - but insisted on having them for himself. They were the least of his malevolent claims, though.

Eventually I replaced the set but have yet to resume my reading of them, eyesight being what it is, as well as computer and internet competition!

At this very moment I'm trying to decide whether to keep the 7-volume set of ancient civilizations' history from The Folio Society. They finally lured me with these morsels to rejoin, though the idea of buying 4 more books from them this year when I've so many on my "to read" list already is making me highly tempted to pack up the lovely 7 volumes and send them back with "no further obligation" as promised! I would still get to keep the bonuses - including David Crystal's "A Little Book of Language". another subject I also enjoy. Even the postage for returning the books would save me a lot and balance out the bonuses I get to keep. sigh.

Yes, your facial characteristics are very similar to his, if one factors in the age difference. I wouldn't say that "just any little boy" quite describes how he looks, though. And - oh, yes - those sisters are all so lively looking! Most enchanting!


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Keep the books Nellieanna. Even if you never read them entirely, you can still dip into them, and there is nothing more reassuring in a house than a collection of well loved volumes.


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

Wonderful story-telling, christopher, you kept my interest to the end. I guessed this might be the tragic story of the Romanovs when I saw the picture of the prince in his old-fashioned sailor blouse. Then my suspicions were confirmed when I saw the portrait of the Tsar and Tsarina.

You did a remarkable job with this one - thank you for the delightful interesting read.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

TRUE, but my house is virutally overtaken with books, my dear! Floor to ceiling in several rooms and not a room with out some! I love 'em all and can never get rid of any, but - maybe before I'm totally one with these. . . - Right now they are crowded onto a surface which was already fully occupied! LOL. But it depends on whether or not I have time for boxing and sending them before my house guests arrive in a week. hehe I won't shed tears either way.


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

Hi Chris i thought you were up to something, i thought maybe Napoleon but you managed to outdo him. Well done mate, a great sad real event, brought to life in a brilliantly cunning way.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Hi drbj. Thanks for reading. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Nellieanna.

I have to confess that, since I got my internet back, a few years ago, I haven't opened a book. I reckon the days of big volumes are ending anyway.

Like yourself, I wouldn't throw any out, but with "Kindle", and all those innovations, I'll probably never buy another one.

Keith.

Thanks for reading. I thought I should leave Napoleon alone for a change.

Glad you liked it.


Stan Fletcher profile image

Stan Fletcher 5 years ago from Nashville, TN

Really great writing my friend. I was glued from start to finish....


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

True, though I still love the look and feel of a real book and reading is something so dear to me. I don't have Kindle, though I may eventually have an iPad.

I've been reading the books along with classic movies I love. It's fun to see how "true" the scripts are to the actual original books. This is especially interesting in the case of Jane Austen. But if I do keep the Folio Society books and buy the 4, I may get some of their books of some movies I like, such as "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and "Age of Innocence". I have most of the Jane Austen ones.

I frequently actually print out things from online which I want to really peruse. Reading on the glaring screen is not as much pleasure, somehow. I'm just now getting comfortable writing on it & still more prefer to compose on paper with pen. :-)

Are you spying, Stan? I'm innocent! Innocent, I tell you! It's just that Christopher has such good stuff! I can't resist!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

HI, I love the way you tell history in such a personal way, I did begin to get who it was after the first few paragraphs and could not stop reading it, the bit when you explained the shootings in black, was riveting. I think you should change the title to explain who it is, so when anybody looks it up online they will find this. I would love to have had someone write history like this when I was young, it would have made it much more personal and it would have stayed in my memory more, rated up!


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Thanks for your kind words Stan. I appreciate them a lot.

Nellieanna. I guess you will have to do what you think is best with the books. Jane Austin books should suit you, as you look like a Jane Austin heroine, in a good way mind you, and your hubs do display all the accomplishments of a well brought up lady.

Hi Nell. Glad you liked that.

I did think of changing the title, but it's misleading nature is essential for the complete story to work. I wanted people to feel they were reading about a real family. Perhaps I might change it into something that might get more searches, like "Pussycat Dolls get shot". But then that might be a bit disrespectful.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Ah, thank you, Christopher. That's a lovely compliment, though her heroines were like herself, - feisty and way ahead of their time. They were, of course, restricted by the way it was in the late 18th and early 19th century to a large extent, but also spread their wings & defied conventions in many major ways. She herself was a rarity for her time - an independent woman novelist who actually earned her living writing. It was scandalous for women to be so well educated, rational, opinionated, independent thinking AND to earn a living at anything was truly off the wall! But she did that and won respect even in her day.

Hugs, my friend. Can't wait to see what you'll write next! :-)

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