Tell me about your family?

Jamie's kitchen rules

Coffs Coast is a continuous stretch of scalloped beaches with points and headlands that generate wave after wave in all winds and weather. The colourful willages and seaside communities are just as peaceful as can be...
Coffs Coast is a continuous stretch of scalloped beaches with points and headlands that generate wave after wave in all winds and weather. The colourful willages and seaside communities are just as peaceful as can be...
The fishing fleet is in and the sun is warm. Kirsty and Jamie saunter along the breakwater wall on a 500 m stroll to Muttonbird Island. Jamie stops to watch a muttonbird shearing the water with its wings.
The fishing fleet is in and the sun is warm. Kirsty and Jamie saunter along the breakwater wall on a 500 m stroll to Muttonbird Island. Jamie stops to watch a muttonbird shearing the water with its wings.
The bird is long gone, but Jamie keeps counting the water circles that stays behind it. His Mum keeps walking along the spine of the island until her son is a little speck in the distance, frozen in space and time.
The bird is long gone, but Jamie keeps counting the water circles that stays behind it. His Mum keeps walking along the spine of the island until her son is a little speck in the distance, frozen in space and time.
Suddenly a group of children of Jamie's age, chasing one another, passess her by, the air fills in with shrieks and laughter, until they are gone and she is alone...
Suddenly a group of children of Jamie's age, chasing one another, passess her by, the air fills in with shrieks and laughter, until they are gone and she is alone...
Kirsty hurries back and takes Jamie's hand: " I wanted to show you the little birds before they fly off, but never mind now, we have to go, there is someone I want you to meet."
Kirsty hurries back and takes Jamie's hand: " I wanted to show you the little birds before they fly off, but never mind now, we have to go, there is someone I want you to meet."
"I am counting," Jamie says solemnly. "We can come back tomorrow," Kirsty tries. "The circles are here now, look," he points in front of him. His serious look scares her and she gives him a big hug.
"I am counting," Jamie says solemnly. "We can come back tomorrow," Kirsty tries. "The circles are here now, look," he points in front of him. His serious look scares her and she gives him a big hug.
It is nearly dark, crabs hide in the sand. Kirsty's boyfriend paces nervously in front of her house while talking loudly into mobile.  Jamie crouches down near the gate and watches intently a tiny buttefly caught in a spiderweb.
It is nearly dark, crabs hide in the sand. Kirsty's boyfriend paces nervously in front of her house while talking loudly into mobile. Jamie crouches down near the gate and watches intently a tiny buttefly caught in a spiderweb.
Kirsty kisses the boyfriend while he fixes a new fancy watch on her wrist: "So next time you are on time," he laughs, while she appologizes: "Sorry, but Jamie, you know, he follows his own time."
Kirsty kisses the boyfriend while he fixes a new fancy watch on her wrist: "So next time you are on time," he laughs, while she appologizes: "Sorry, but Jamie, you know, he follows his own time."
"Autism is a complex, lifelong developmental disability, Kirsty, he needs speech therapy, occupational therapy and social skill group, he needs help now and he will need it whole life and I am able to pay for it..." Her boyfriend keeps talking...
"Autism is a complex, lifelong developmental disability, Kirsty, he needs speech therapy, occupational therapy and social skill group, he needs help now and he will need it whole life and I am able to pay for it..." Her boyfriend keeps talking...
following Kirsty to her kitchen, a piece of handwritten paper  is sticked on its door: 'Do not enter if you want to kill my time.' "What a nutcase," he mutters to himself, opening the door and then slipping on the threshold ...
following Kirsty to her kitchen, a piece of handwritten paper is sticked on its door: 'Do not enter if you want to kill my time.' "What a nutcase," he mutters to himself, opening the door and then slipping on the threshold ...
Jamie stands up, a complete darkness around him, he follows the butterfly that managed to free itself to the front door. The light and the noise inside makes him restless and unhappy.
Jamie stands up, a complete darkness around him, he follows the butterfly that managed to free itself to the front door. The light and the noise inside makes him restless and unhappy.
The man lies flat on his belly behind the kitchen door, a few banknotes and coins spilled from his pocket under the fridge. Jamie crosses the kitchen, his gaze transfixed on something shiny under the kitchen sink...
The man lies flat on his belly behind the kitchen door, a few banknotes and coins spilled from his pocket under the fridge. Jamie crosses the kitchen, his gaze transfixed on something shiny under the kitchen sink...
"I don't want him to be locked inside the therapy rooms for the rest of his life, I remember when we first went to therapy, my inventive, humorous and affectionate boy was gone, they changed him to a robot and destroyed his soul..."
"I don't want him to be locked inside the therapy rooms for the rest of his life, I remember when we first went to therapy, my inventive, humorous and affectionate boy was gone, they changed him to a robot and destroyed his soul..."
she picks up his mobile handing it to him, when another handwritten piece of paper fells from the wall on his head, he reads it: 'There is a wall between you and me,  break the wall if you  want to love me.' He shakes his head trying to stand up...
she picks up his mobile handing it to him, when another handwritten piece of paper fells from the wall on his head, he reads it: 'There is a wall between you and me, break the wall if you want to love me.' He shakes his head trying to stand up...
She helps him up explaining: "You see, he is only 12 and very clever with the words, I know he needs to fit in with the world but not if I loose his true self..."
She helps him up explaining: "You see, he is only 12 and very clever with the words, I know he needs to fit in with the world but not if I loose his true self..."
"Where are my car keys?" Her boyfriend suddenly cries out looking around the kitchen throwing the chairs around: "I am already late..." Jamie watches him from the corner and then he starts to run in a perfect circle, screaming on the top of his voice
"Where are my car keys?" Her boyfriend suddenly cries out looking around the kitchen throwing the chairs around: "I am already late..." Jamie watches him from the corner and then he starts to run in a perfect circle, screaming on the top of his voice
"Just tell him to shut up," her boyfriend covers his ears. Kirsty points out on another handwritten note on the wall: 'What a shame, you are not listening to me more, you disturb my peace, I disturb yours even more.'
"Just tell him to shut up," her boyfriend covers his ears. Kirsty points out on another handwritten note on the wall: 'What a shame, you are not listening to me more, you disturb my peace, I disturb yours even more.'
"It is time for you to leave, I think," Kirsty said slowly picking up the chairs and taking Jamie hand to slow him down. " Do you think I would stay in this mad house if I have car key?" He spits out.
"It is time for you to leave, I think," Kirsty said slowly picking up the chairs and taking Jamie hand to slow him down. " Do you think I would stay in this mad house if I have car key?" He spits out.
Jamie stops in his track and closes his mouth, looking miraculously straight into her eyes he open his hand. The car key lays on his palm. Kirsty takes them and hands them to the man, who has no place in their lives.
Jamie stops in his track and closes his mouth, looking miraculously straight into her eyes he open his hand. The car key lays on his palm. Kirsty takes them and hands them to the man, who has no place in their lives.
Jamie looks at her watch. She takes them off and hands them back too. The strange man leaves their house and Grandmother's pendulum clock with loud tick starts to measure Jamie's time again.
Jamie looks at her watch. She takes them off and hands them back too. The strange man leaves their house and Grandmother's pendulum clock with loud tick starts to measure Jamie's time again.
Kirsty picks up the cloth with the word 'Honour' written on it that slipped off the chair: "Jamie, I don't know how to make you sit still and listen and I don't know how we manage to survive, but I would not change you for anything." She huggs him..
Kirsty picks up the cloth with the word 'Honour' written on it that slipped off the chair: "Jamie, I don't know how to make you sit still and listen and I don't know how we manage to survive, but I would not change you for anything." She huggs him..
Jamie crawls under the fridge and hands her money. Kirsty shrieks from the joy: " You are a clever cookie, Jamie, do you know that?" Jamie finds some nuts on the kitchen table and make a word: 'nutcase'. Kirsty wants to protest but he just swaps...
Jamie crawls under the fridge and hands her money. Kirsty shrieks from the joy: " You are a clever cookie, Jamie, do you know that?" Jamie finds some nuts on the kitchen table and make a word: 'nutcase'. Kirsty wants to protest but he just swaps...
c for k and the word 'nutcake' appears in front of her. Slowly and carefully he puts a bag of flour, sugar and two eggs next to the bowl full of pecan nuts and she mixes the dough...
c for k and the word 'nutcake' appears in front of her. Slowly and carefully he puts a bag of flour, sugar and two eggs next to the bowl full of pecan nuts and she mixes the dough...
A rolling pin, of hoop pine in her hands, spreading the pastry, slowly, so carefully. Pecan nuts circling the baking tin. Before she can place the pastry in the tin, Jamie puts there the nuts first...upside-down cake for her, a normal cake for him..
A rolling pin, of hoop pine in her hands, spreading the pastry, slowly, so carefully. Pecan nuts circling the baking tin. Before she can place the pastry in the tin, Jamie puts there the nuts first...upside-down cake for her, a normal cake for him..
She remembered many children around it, differ only by size and their names. All strong or weak, bastards, handicapped, loved and treated the same. She was one of them. And now Jamie is part of them too...
She remembered many children around it, differ only by size and their names. All strong or weak, bastards, handicapped, loved and treated the same. She was one of them. And now Jamie is part of them too...
at least here, in their country kitchen, no one is pushed to normalise, no one is forced to change, different doesn't mean deficit, different means gain...
at least here, in their country kitchen, no one is pushed to normalise, no one is forced to change, different doesn't mean deficit, different means gain...
even, if the world outside doesn't want to see it that way.
even, if the world outside doesn't want to see it that way.
How do you work with the institutions of this world, how do you work with the people of this world, who consider everything different than themselves, out of the norm and demand an unreal normalisation ...
How do you work with the institutions of this world, how do you work with the people of this world, who consider everything different than themselves, out of the norm and demand an unreal normalisation ...
Kirsty knows that Jamie is able to feel and show affection, the ability to care for people is there. It is hard for him to form relationships but it doesn't mean that nature isn't there, it is just expressed differently.
Kirsty knows that Jamie is able to feel and show affection, the ability to care for people is there. It is hard for him to form relationships but it doesn't mean that nature isn't there, it is just expressed differently.
Jamie struggles with anxiety, understanding emotions and cognitive issues with cause and effect, often being overloaded by visual and verbal stimulation and yet he wakes up every morning, happy and optimistic to try again overcome obstacles...
Jamie struggles with anxiety, understanding emotions and cognitive issues with cause and effect, often being overloaded by visual and verbal stimulation and yet he wakes up every morning, happy and optimistic to try again overcome obstacles...
As a parent, Kirsty knows she has changed in a particular way because of him. She is richer person because of him, she has learnt a lot from him, a different world view.
As a parent, Kirsty knows she has changed in a particular way because of him. She is richer person because of him, she has learnt a lot from him, a different world view.
Kirsty knows that one in 160 children is believed to be on the spectrum in Australia. Every week, about 50 children receive an autism diagnosis.
Kirsty knows that one in 160 children is believed to be on the spectrum in Australia. Every week, about 50 children receive an autism diagnosis.
She wants to believe that just like her Grandmother long time ago, people will learn to reach out a bit more in their daily lives, to accept a world from a different point of view...maybe their view is right and our is wrong...one will never know...
She wants to believe that just like her Grandmother long time ago, people will learn to reach out a bit more in their daily lives, to accept a world from a different point of view...maybe their view is right and our is wrong...one will never know...

Country kitchen,

flypaper

barely moving

in early morning

breeze.

Corner shelves

held

enamel saucepans

underneath.


Hearth tools

used,

every couple of hours

when stove was stoked,

next to it.


Pig's buckets

took

every scrap of food.

Window was small

lino was cheap,

easily cleaned

and

resilient.


Grandmum

polished it

daily

with a mixture of beeswax,

and turpentine.


A rolling pin

of hoop pine

in her worn out hands,

spreading the pastry,

slowly,

so carefully.

Jars of preserved fruit

circling the baking tin.


So many children

around it,

differ only by size

and

their names.

All

strong or weak,

bastards,

handicapped,

loved and treated the same,

at least here,

in this country kitchen,

even,

if the world outside,

didn't want to see it,

that way.


Pendulum clock

with loud tick

the smell of coffee

essence

with chicory

and the cloth

covering

the mantelpiece.

The word

'HONOUR'

painted in golden letters

on it.

Honour,

a much better word

than goodness.

It's to do

with honesty,

principle

and bravery.


As a child,

as a future parent,

that's the thread

you always look for

in your family history.

The thread,

many of us

are not lucky enough

to find.


The thread

found

in her,

the person,

Grandmother

to all.


In the way

she explored

the spiritual realms

of existence,

through prayer.

In the way

she probed

the moral dimensions

of human behaviour.

In the way

she celebrated

the unique traits

and differences

of the children

in her care

by asking them:

"Tell me about your family?"


And yet

therein lied the source

of a deep sadness

in her,

the failure,

as she would put it,

of her many children,

neither

able

to settle

nor belong

or be accepted

in the world

beyond

her country kitchen.


"What is wrong with this world?"

She kept asking no one particular,

for her it was just an impulse,

but she had started

something,

she hadn't counted on.


As a mother,

as a teacher,

as a friend,

as a citizen,

as a stranger,

as a human being,

I have promised

to myself,

not to judge

or take sides,

before I ask:

"Tell me about your family?"


And yet,

as a member

of a jury,

in 2002,

I had voted

the boy turned into the monster

guilty on all accounts,

without

considering

this question to be asked.


WHY?


He was living in my area,

where my children

played

before

safely.

He used a stolen bicycle

to lure an eight-year old boy

to his house.


Over the next 24 hours

he inflicted horrific abuse

on the boy

as a massice police hunt

for the child

raged through the town.


The boy managed to escape

his house

on the bike.


When police searched the house,

the accused said,

he wanted to relive the childhood

he never had

and engaged in that behaviour,

because

'that is what teenage boys do.'


He pleaded guilty

to 22 charges

relating to kidnap

and abuse,

sentenced

to 11 years jail.


In 2009,

the Supreme Court

declared him

a dangerous sex offender

and he was jailed

indefinitely.


The following year

during palliative care

for an HIV infection,

he died,

shackled to bed,

prison guards

standing over his body.


No one mourned his death.

There were no friends

or family.

He died alone,

unknown,

unloved.


"Tell me about your family?"

That was the question

I owned to him.


As a 17-year-old he shot his father

with the help of his mother,

to stop beating and abuse

in his drunken rage.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison

and his mother got life.


In five years

they were released

on licence

on relation to domestice violence.


He started drinking at age of five.

He was made the ward of the State

in the age of nine

due to his mother's mental instability.


While in a state care,

in a foster home,

he ran away from many times,

an older man in position of trust,

sexually abused him

for long 13 years,

without anyone noticing.


The concern for his mother,

he loved,

kept forcing him back

to his violent home,

and he returned there

again,

two months before

he murdered his father.


Released from jail,

a long-haired 22-year-old

with homemade tattoo

on his arm,

reading "Mum",

in three years,

the only person

he loved and trusted

died in a house fire.

He later told prison officials

it was suicide.

The anger in his eyes

said it all,

the once-innocent boy was long gone.


Over the next few years,

he acquired criminal records

all over Australia.


When I asked about the necessity

of the shackles

that bound him

until the last hours of his life,

when I mentioned

the findings about his life,

I was told,

nothing changes the fact

that the boy

turned into the monster

and he payed for his crimes.


"Tell me about your family?"

I wanted to ask,

the judge,

the jury,

the prison officials,

his carer, who abused him

for so long,

the people around him,

who decided to look the other way....


"What is wrong with this world?"

The Grandmother's question

is here

again

to be asked,

"This monster was created by us,

this monster started as an innocent child,

failed by his parents,

by his carers,

(his abuser had never been charged

and kept working in foster care)

by his teachers,

by people around him,

by his state,

but at the end,

he was the only one

who payed the price

and no one cares,

the least of them all,

the legal system

of this state."




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Comments 30 comments

Senoritaa profile image

Senoritaa 4 years ago

As usual this piece of yours strikes a deep chord as well. You just bring them out so well, the important yet unanswered questions that engulf this hypocrite society we live in.


mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

Beautifully done - it's like counterpoint in music. very original presentation. Your topic is one that I have been considering writing about. I'm very concerned with how labels affect our children, particularly autism, attention deficit disorder and bipolar disorder. My concern is two-fold - are children being incorrectly diagnosed because anything outside of the 'norm' has to be labeled? The other concern is the negative impact of receiving a label. Great hub!


Jackwms profile image

Jackwms 4 years ago

This is beautifully described. You may have written it based upon experiences of someone you have known or even closer to home. In my own case, we had a caring, loving home life, but I was aware of situations outside our home, similar to what you describe here.

I like your hubs very much.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

This is the type of work which will be remembered in a hundred years. It is the best of some superlative "story poems" from you. They carry the reader on like a raging tide.

So many lives get thrown away. I have only just escaped the hard wiring from an abusive and broken home, but not before prison and other trauma.

Absolutely stunning, Beata.

Should be hub of the month.

Bob


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you again, my dear fellow hubbers for your kind comments, it is because of your encouraging responses I keep writing. It is easy to write about something you are passionate about. You are right, Jack, this family stories are universal stories...of you, me, of someone else next door or in other land. Unfortunatelly as a human race we tend to progress in milestones in every aspect except of our socio-emotional develompent, where we just move around the circles from our beginnings....If you lived long, long time ago or you are just born now...your life is still determined to whom you are born or if your human qualities are outside or inside the norm used by majority...


Capedium profile image

Capedium 4 years ago from Texas.

I like the idea.. Can't say how true it is though.. But it was really interesting.. love it


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

I always write this way, dear 'Capedium', in every of my hubs you find something close and personal that you can apply in universal way...I strongly believe that if I reveal something about myself it has to be for a purpose and a good cause. On other hand I have no right to reveal anything about anyone else including my family, it is the personal life we all live and it is just for us:)

Not to disappoint you, all three stories are based on truth...my intention is not to make up the stuff to shock but to use the real stories to highlight the important issues we as a society need to address...if I succeeded in it or not is up to you, readers to tell...


Jackwms profile image

Jackwms 4 years ago

I agree Beata. I felt that what you wrote brought out something from your own experiences. It would be really hard to make this stuff up. I may yet find a way to tell some of my own stories in a way that doesn't reveal personal aspects that I don't want identified. The poetry was a great idea, but 'm not sure I can do that..


MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 years ago from The Caribbean

A literary masterpiece promoting a healthy personal philosophy. Thanks for sharing.


coffeegginmyrice profile image

coffeegginmyrice 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

I like everything in here, the personal touch, the truth, the poetic story and the photographs.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

Moving stuff! There's a 'B' side to every coin, but we can't afford to get too involved with the social side of offenders. We're all 'on best behaviour' until we commit a misdemeanour, then we're 'on the line' until we prove we're trustworthy again. Most of us manage it, come what may. Some fall by the wayside.


mizjo profile image

mizjo 4 years ago from New York City, NY

Very moving story, beautifully written, Beata.

I would say most of us know one person who would answer to the description of the victim who started as an innocent child. Neglected, beaten and abused by family and society and 'people in positions of trust and power', he ends shackled, unknown, unloved, unwanted.

In a different environment he could have had so much to give to society. Therein lies the tragedy of our callous world.

And yet, as alancaster says, most of us manage it, come what may. I have a friend whom our social services failed again and again, and she pulled through by her own boot straps. Today she is a social worker.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, again, my dear followers for your insightful comments, I agree on everything what you said above, and yet...as Sean Penn in his character 'This is the place' repeated many times:"I don't what it is but I feel something is not right." As he found out by himself, killing someone, doesn't matter how guilty, doesn't solve the problem in the end. Domino effect of innocence lost and hatred gained, of guilt and revenge, of crime and punishment will stay on both sides (of accussed and of offended) for generations to come...killing of one offender is just one little revenge on a big picture of things taking place...

It keeps amusing me how fast we progress technologically, how happy we are that new gadgets on the market make our live easier and easier, and yet, in other more important areas of our everyday live, we rely on systems and regulations that have served us well for generations...and we just sigh, well, maybe it doesn't work so well any more but it all we have....maybe we just don't know how to change...


itakins profile image

itakins 4 years ago from Irl

Maybe too many of us are sitting it out,waiting for others to deal with the rotten issues in our societies.We appear to be accepting of change that is foisted on us,by those in 'power' -all the rules and regulations,implemented largely to protect them and their wealth.Behind most of these,the individual-the human person-is forgotten.

This is extremely moving, and a work of sheer brilliance.While all I can leave here is a comment - I am taking so much more with me.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, Itakins, these unresolvable issues that most of us just refuse to see or deal with are here to stay and we will be forced to deal with them eventually...the question is how and when...these issues have always been close to my heart and I am very happy that so many people here can relate...


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 4 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

Beata, is this a true account? What ultimately happened to the man who murdered his father? I guess it can be said that we are all oftentimes victims of our upbringing.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

All is true, dear Credence and the boy than man who murdered his father had died in prison shackled to his bed as it is written....just something we all need to think about...thanks for stopping by and come back again:)


FordeAhern profile image

FordeAhern 4 years ago from Broadford, Co. Limerick. ireland

Truly a beautiful hub, thank you for sharing it. You can see how passionate you are about. every thing is said in the other comments and you can see how every one enjoyed. Keep it up. Fordie


Rusti Mccollum profile image

Rusti Mccollum 4 years ago from Lake Oswego, Oregon

I am ashamed of my family. I found this hub interesting and I wondered what happened to the one who murdered his dad. Sad people do that kind of stuff. Anyways great job.Loved it!


liftandsoar profile image

liftandsoar 4 years ago from Richmond, VA

Very moving, Beata. See I've visted you across the miles. Thanks for puting your thoughts and insights into such an awesome piece of writing.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thanks guys for stopping by and happy you enjoyed the piece, dear Rusti, as it is written above, the one who murdered his dad, died in the prison shackled to his bed. Sad end of the sad life:)

We are just humans, each of us has something in their families they are proud of and something we prefer not to talk about...I am passionate and always on side of those who are victimized, by circumstances, by their differences...by sheer bad of being on wrong place in wrong time...


CrisSp profile image

CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

Again, the visuals are beautiful, the story is dark and sad but you have written it beautifully in a way readers are profoundly touched. Really, who is to blame in this boy turned monster? Whoever stole his innocence. Interesting read!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you 'Cris' for your encouraging response, it is one of those open questions, we are obliged to punish those who commit a murder to protect ourselves but many (not all) people turned to monsters due to exposure to cruelty and mistreatment in their childhood and no one is accountable for that....


samtebbutt profile image

samtebbutt 4 years ago from Ireland

"Tell me about your family" These words are so powerful. In our modern world it does seem to be a missing link,to understanding the actions of others. Awesome. Strong writing


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you my fellow hubber for your encouraging reply, strong words resonate in powerful hearts:)


josh3418 profile image

josh3418 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

Wow!, I am speechless, this is a fantastic hub! I do not even know what to say...Voted up , useful, and interesting!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, Josh, just a hub...there are plenty great ones on the hubpages, but I am very grateful for your encouraging response, I think it is always to write about things we are passionate about:)


Angelme566 profile image

Angelme566 4 years ago

Very broad and touching , worthy of our time..You are a very unique writer.


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

Very interesting, with words so powerful. Voted up.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, Angel and unkown spy, for giving my words wings, words are just as powerful as readers make them:)

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