So you can read my books

Monday, February 4, 2013

OVERCOMING ADVERSITY blog hop to help a champion

Help Nick Wilford's amazing stepson, Andrew.

If you don't know, Andrew has cerebral palsy and is coming to the end of his time at Stanmore House School in Lanark, a fantastic place that he has attended since joining the nursery class about fifteen years ago.
Nick believes that the input from his teachers, and the technology available at the school, have helped shape him into the talented individual he is today. Unfortunately post-18 things don't look quite so good in Scotland.
Andrew was basically told he would be attending Motherwell College (no element of choice),
where he would be doing the "Access-8" course
which more or less amounts to daycare
(fingerpainting and the like),
nothing that was going to push him to develop,
or end up with a career.
Nick and Andrew have now settled on Beaumont College in Lancaster,
which Andrew has visited and offers amazing facilities like Eye Gaze technology,
which would enable Andrew to use his eyes to select from different phrases and communicate much more effectively.
He is interested in following a film editing course.
So I would like you to write something in that vein:
overcoming adversity for something you believe in.
It can either be a flash fiction piece,
or an episode from your real life.
Poetry is fine too.

The Rules:

* Sign up on the linky list on Nick's blog

* Please keep your entry to 500 words

* Please post on either Monday 4th or Tuesday 5th February

* I'd better say, keep it family-friendly! I'm sure it will be anyway.

Err... that's it! Once it's all over, Nick will compile all the entries into the anthology
which will be released as soon as possible, with all proceeds going towards Andrew's fund.
I really hope you'll be able to join me, and please spread the word by whatever means you choose.
The more the merrier!
 The ant is Andrew's mascot and will also feature on the book's cover.

As always for constant updates on Andrew please check out his Facebook page. Thanks!
Here is my entry  (556 words)
Seven years ago, Hurricane Rita was a category 5 hurricane.
I spent the morning running rare blood to scrambling hospitals.

I drove back home to wolf down lunch. A mandatory evacuation was issued. I went downstairs.

Someone had siphoned the gas from my car. All the gas stations were shut down. I was stranded in the path of a killer hurricane.


Freddie, my supervisor, called checking in on me. He offered me a ride in his car as he drove beside his wife's car containing his two children.

So with the clothes on my back, my laptop on my lap, and Gypsy, my cat, in a carrier, I rode into the darkness.

The highways were log-jammed.
We drove the back roads, the cypress trees bending down over us in the blackness as if listening to our whispered voices. Freddie's eyes were hollow.

As we passed his wife's car, I saw she was frantic.

I winked at the pale faces of Freddie's two children, pulled Gypsy out of the carrier, and picked up her front paw as if she were waving at the them.

They giggled. And the grip of panic on their mother seemed to break.

Freddie studied me for a moment and said, "Dude, you're like Job."

"How so?"

"I mean you got your gas siphoned out of your car just when you needed it most."

"I bet a lot of people did."

"Yeah, but if Rita hits Lake Charles, this will be the second time you'll have lost everything.

You lost it all when your home burned. And before that you closed your business. Your mother died before that. And before that your fiancée died. And your childhood best friend died before Kathy. Damn, it's like you're Job."

I nodded, smiling sadly, "As I recall Job ended up pretty well."

"You've got a strange way at looking at life, dude."

"You're not the first to say that."

We made it to Baton Rouge where I worked delivering rare blood to all the hospitals reeling under the impact of Katrina.

I drove to the hospital of Metairie, the first suburb of New Orleans. (It is a French term for a tenant farm.)

I saw people who had only thought they knew what having nothing meant. I smelled the stench of decaying human flesh on the breath of a too silent city.

I saw young boys in uniform trying to be men under impossible conditions.

Late at night I typed the first draft of FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE, alone in the spacious suite afforded me by the blood center for which I worked.

It had been leased for the board of directors to oversee the new center in Baton Rouge.

So for two months I slept in a prince's suite. Gypsy was satisfied with her accommodations, she being a princess and all.

I barely saw the suite. I was always driving  --

down unfamiliar roads to hospitals protected by hollow-eyed young boys with automatic weapons and dry mouths.

On my days off, I would volunteer to drive vans for the Salvation Army, Red Cross, church groups, or out-of-state relatives frantic to find lost loved ones. There are stories in that time that haunt me still, but they belong to shattered, valiant hearts.

In the end, we write our own epitaph in the ink of our deeds


  1. I can't even imagine what it must have been like to be in that place at that time. But you did good work there, Roland!

  2. When our troubles seem greatest, we find relief in the service to others. And when we give ourselves to others unconditionally, our own troubles shrink and often vanish. You are a good man, Roland.

  3. Trisha:
    My whole city's inhabitants found themselves in a disaster movie, but there were no directors to yell CUT. I worked among heroes, walked among the walking wounded, so my heart wouldn't let me do any less. Thanks for the kind words.

    You would have done the same I am sure.

    You have touched so many lives positively in so many different ways that you are an inspiration to me and to so many others in the blogverse. Thank you for the mention on your blog. :-)

  4. Excellent story and heartbreaking, Roland. It seems life dumps on us sometimes and sorrow does seem to come in bunches. How a person reacts shows what kind of character that person has.

    We experienced that medical change with our oldest when she was very ill, the pediatric care was great, but as soon as they become 18 in Canada as well, then you're looked upon as a detriment on the system.

    Since then, I have had to fight for her to get what help we can. It's not easy, and it's a constant worry.

    Good luck to Andrew and to Saint Nick for being so inventive with his solution. And thanks for sharing your N'Orleans tale of Katrina, we know you're a good guy!

  5. Hi, Roland,
    I bet you have a never-ending supply of harrowing stories. Read a bit about your experiences on Alex's blog today. To lose so much and still keep going takes determination. I lift my hat to you.

  6. This is an incredible story, and so well written. You have certainly had to overcome adversity, yet you shine all the brighter for it. Well done!

  7. It is what we do when no one is looking that defines our true character. Roland, you are one of those people who do the right thing when no one is looking - you are a good man. I was in NW LA when it hit. It was heartbreaking.

  8. What a well written, amazing story. Thanks so much for sharing Roland!

  9. You have been through so much. That storm was heartbreaking to witness from far away. It made me feel helpless. But then there was you helping everyone. That's a great thing to know. You're due for a great turn in fortune.

  10. D.G.:
    It grieves me to hear about your struggle against government deadlock over your daughter. She and you will be in my strongest prayers!

    I'm sure life has stung you as well. We learn more from the stings than the songs of life it seems!

    Shell Flower:
    Thank you for such nice words, but there were so many others who were truly heroes during that dark time.

    I am sure you would have probably done even more than I in similar conditions. None of us know what the world looks like when the lights go out and stay out.

    I only wrote it to show that none of us should take the future for certain and that there is a hero inside all of us if we only listen to him or her in the darkness.

    M Pax:
    I saw so many true heroes in my travels that they made me humble and strive to live up to the example they gave. May 2013 be your year for great things! :-)

  11. Thanks for taking part, Roland, and posting this awe-inspiring entry. You kept going, thinking of everyone but yourself. It was terrifying just to watch so I can't imagine being there and doing what you did. Thanks for posting that excellent video, too!

  12. Thank you for helping other people, Roland. You are truly an unsung hero along with many others who just get on with it despite their own hardships. Lifting the spirits of those two frightened children helped the whole atmosphere in that car. Stay safe.

  13. Nick:
    I thought the video would help illuminate the great education and attention Andrew would receive if he could but go to Beaumont College. I pray he can go there.

    Gypsy was the true lifter of spirits in that car! :-)

  14. Hi, Roland,

    This story STILL gives me goosebumps when I read it. SO much heart and caring in your being.... This is what makes you as special as you are....

  15. Hi Roland .. I popped in yesterday to the post and realised I needed more time to answer ...

    a) because you told your story of the devastating storms destroying New Orleans ...

    and b) because you put up the video on Beaumont College in Lancaster - which I found very informative ...

    Nick deserves much support in his quest for funding for Andrew - and it's wonderful he thought of us to help with the anthology he proposes to raise funds from the entry posts ...

    I hope your life is written up by someone ... and that perhaps even a film is made - those wouldn't be your style, I know, but all the same - it's a journey of life that should be written ..

    You've been through much ... a right maelstrom of a life - yet compassion shines through ..

    Wonderful post - I so appreciate you blogging and writing .. and once my Kindle is up and running - I'll be buying your books ... I don't think there are any in print ...

    Nick by his comment certainly appreciates your story here, but too the fact you put the video up and the the 'nouse' to look for and find it ...

    With many thoughts - Hilary