this (en­cour­ag­ing) life

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Mary Joseph­son Re­view wel­comes sub­mis­sions to This Life. To be con­sid­ered for pub­li­ca­tion, the work must be orig­i­nal and be­tween 450 and 500 words. Sub­mis­sions may be edited for clar­ity. Send emails to this­life@theaus­tralian.com.au

It is 8.45am and the sound of the phone ring­ing drags my hus­band and I out of bed. We had cel­e­brated a 50th wed­ding an­niver­sary with friends last night and had hoped to sleep in. Who could be ring­ing at this hour?

Our lovely daugh­ter-in-law is on the other end of the line. I revert to grand­par­ent mode: Is ev­ery­thing all right?

Ev­ery­thing is fine. “Could you come to Bene­dict’s cross-coun­try race at 9.15am?” she asks.

Bene­dict is five years old. I agree. I’d hate to let him down.

I jump out of bed, drag on some­thing ac­cept­able and race to the scene. It is a beau­ti­ful, crisp day, and all the young moth­ers and some fa­thers, wait ea­gerly for the races to begin. I join them. We chat as the chil­dren lim­ber up. It’s a per­fect scene.

My thoughts begin to wan­der. With all th­ese beau­ti­ful chil­dren, lov­ing par­ents, ded­i­cated teach­ers and events such as this repli­cated across the coun­try, how could we not feel con­fi­dent for the fu­ture? Surely with all the care em­bed­ded in our chil­dren, good­ness will over­come the ug­li­ness in our world?

But my rev­erie is short lived. There is a prob­lem. I am on one side of the field with the bar­rack­ers, and Bene­dict is on the other. It’s a vast ex­panse.

Then it dawns on me that he won’t know I was here. I could be at home, lay­ing in bed — he won’t know the dif­fer­ence. Some­thing has to be done. The race be­gins with a flurry of tiny arms and legs. I need to get closer. No sooner have I gin­gerly stepped over a flagged bar­rier to move nearer the mark­ers on the ground than a young teacher comes charg­ing down the hill.

“Out of the way,” she yells, her lit­tle band of pint-sized war­riors thun­der­ing be­hind her.

I stepped back just in time. “I must see him,” I think to my­self. “I must let him know I am here.”

Con­fu­sion over­comes me as the lit­tle boys run past. Which one is he? Is that him? I think his hair is darker than that boy’s, but I take the plunge. “Bene­dict!” He hes­i­tates, and turns his head to­wards me. “Go Bene­dict, go!” Mission ac­com­plished. I slink back into the crowd. I head to the bar­ri­cades and watch the other races. My friend’s grand­daugh­ter is run­ning in the next event. Which one is she in this beau­ti­ful sea of blonde pony­tails swing­ing into the far dis­tance. We can‘t tell.

But there they go, run­ning their lit­tle hearts out. Push­ing them­selves, smil­ing. No one gives up. Australia is in safe hands.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.