“HOPE — Against the Odds” ~~ by Christine Larsen

“HOPE — Against the Odds” ~~ by Christine Larsen

The odds WERE formidable.

A US Air Corps fighter pilot who found himself in a German prisoner of war camp after his plane was shot down. He survived that disaster but wasn’t too sure about his current ‘home’. Despite this, he refused to let the probabilities stop him from making the best he could of every moment he would have.

Boredom threatened his sanity until a light bulb moment illuminated a memory of a gift of an old ‘fiddle’, with the words, “It’s yours, Red. Maybe you can make music with it.” And thanks to that other life and long-lost place, he’d become a musician… a violinist with an intimate knowledge of violins and their magical workings. Getting one now was an impossibility but he had been carving many small things, so…?

His first move was a common tactic in these harsh conditions – barter, swap, or trade. For tobacco rations,  some sympathetic guards desperate for AmerikanischeZigaretten, traded a pen-knife. From his upbringing on a farm during the Great Depression, and his resourceful father he got determination, remembering, “You can make something out of nothing, Son. All you’ve got to do is find a way… and there always is one.”

When other POWs learned of his quest to carve a violin, they began slipping odd bed slats from their already barely underpinned and supported bunks. And he began whittling and carving. Some parts required a sharp piece of broken glass, others an old kitchen knife, ground on a rock to form into a chisel. All took time… a great deal of time. And patience. And stealth.

Glue presented another problem until he solved that one too, with others pitching in to help scrape old dried carpenters’ glue residue from a few chairs in their wretched barracks. Ground and heated and mixed with water, it worked. Soaking of other thinnest of timber pieces in water heated on their communal wood-stove enabled intricate manipulation and bending of the pieces.

It took three months to make the body, but time was one thing the prisoners had aplenty. Eternally grateful he chose not to be a smoker, care-packages provided him and several other non-smoking prisoners with many cigarettes to barter – for pumice for sanding and paraffin oil to bring out the golden glow of the beech wood, the now unrecognisable bunk slats. A sympathetic guard found him catgut for the strings and a real violin bow was like a gift from the Gods.

All was done… but would it play? To his joy, the pilot and his violin produced the pure poignant sounds of that wonderful instrument, as though this one had volumes to say. Although he was banished to the latrine for his earliest practices, he soon regained his old skills. And caused singing and dancing and some relief for aching hearts and bodies.

One Christmas Eve, the pilot played Silent Night, and voices were heard from other barracks, singing that beloved old carol in different languages. Amongst them, German was heard… from the guards.  So many of them were ordinary family men far from their homes and their loved ones, too.  Somewhere in the shadows, it was said, an elderly guard [maybe the donor of the bow?] stood and sang quietly. And cried softly.

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Among the countless tributes, a particularly precious one was 50 years after WWII, when the pilot donated his violin to a special museum aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid, honouring the men and their memorabilia. At the opening, the concertmaster of the NY Philharmonic orchestra played this precious instrument and commented it was ‘an amazing achievement’ with a ‘quite wonderful sound’, when he had actually expected ‘a jalopy of a violin’.

Not really. More like a gift from God was the thought the pilot had at that precious moment, later shared with his family.

Winning ‘against the odds’ does not always bear the shape we imagined, not always the wish we made. Bizarre how often the worst imaginable outcomes of illness and loss reveal unimagined ‘silver linings’, so often ending in unexpected strength and empathy, and a new or renewed determination to help and support others.

 


OMP Admin Note:  Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

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To find out more about Christine and her work:

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

Christine Larsen, Author

 – on Wattpad

–  on Facebook

– on Tablo

– on Amazon

Old McLarsen had some Farms (farming memoirs)

ceedee4kids (Christine’s children’s book site)


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

 

At the Closing of the Day ~~ by Christine Larsen

At the Closing of the Day ~~ by Christine Larsen

Hallo old friend,

Or is this goodbye?

You’ve fought so valiantly for so long, but the experts agree this could be one battle too many for your poor tired body.

Of course, experts have been wrong before. Miracles have happened. You’re the living proof of that… so far.

Those closest who’ve shared precious time with you say they’ve never seen your spirit so low. You must be SO tired.

It sounds like one part of you wants to once more rise up and fight the good fight; spit in the eye of anything that dares get in the way of you living Life to its fullest, extracting every last drop of loving and laughing to be found in the world around you.

So it has always been. This is the way you have lived your days, when the going was tougher than any should have to expect.

But I hear your voice in my heart, dear one, and though I don’t want to accept your words, I understand. This is one mountain too high, one ocean too deep, one more journey than your poor body can bear, with the terrible burden of your disease rising up everywhere this time.

A poetic soul suggested we not go quietly into that good night; that we should burn and rave and rage against the closing of our day. I’m sure this is true for some, dear one. But not you. Not this time. You’ve been there, done all that. Especially when you had to accept the terrible genetic factors dictating your path; the one you could no more control than you could change despite your heroic efforts.

Those who love you suffer too, imagining being without you. It’s so hard to let go… too hard for some whose hearts are breaking.

Life will teach them the lessons learned by other mourners. Those others who have suffered the worst losses before, now able to accept the moment has arrived when all choices are history. Those others who have found a way through their grieving to celebrate memories of a wonderful life [and you would be the first to say a much longer life than ever expected].

Time has come to say goodbye… but only for a while. I believe we have a date over the Rainbow Bridge, for starters. And then…?

We’ll see, dear one. We’ll just wait and see.

Until then, with the greatest love and thanks for being my friend…… I whisper goodbye, God speed.

Christine


OMP Admin Note:  Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

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To find out more about Christine and her work:

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

Christine Larsen, Author

 – on Wattpad

–  on Facebook

– on Tablo

– on Amazon

Old McLarsen had some Farms (farming memoirs)

ceedee4kids (Christine’s children’s book site)


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

 

How Now, Kowtow? ~~ by Christine Larsen

How Now, Kowtow? ~~ by Christine Larsen

There’s a new kid on the block. He goes by the name of C.W. Writing [C.W.? Ahh, glad you asked. That’s Cringe Worthy]  He’s your basically wimpy little squirt, always blaming someone else for his shortcomings. Cringe moans and groans and spends half his life looking back over his shoulder, filled with regrets and remorse for his lack of skills, knowledge, finesse, whatever… peering way back in his personal evolution from a scribbler to a storyteller as if with a high-powered telescope.

Does he not recognise the insult he inflicts on his tender, vulnerable self of yesterday with his judgmental and negative thinking? How much his inner child suffers from his harsh rejection of his beginnings?

And you have to wonder – does he scrutinise his first words [maybe Ma-ma or Da-da], his first teetering stand-up, his first stumbling steps, with the same unforgiving attitude? And those earliest stick figure family portraits. They continued on for some time. What about them? And that eternal Sun shining in the top corner of every priceless piece of art, even when it rained? And has he forgotten the first Mother’s Day card he made with ultimate concentration [and tongue sticking out the side of his mouth]? The one painstakingly drawn on a page torn out of his brand new writing book? Maybe he doesn’t remember it, but his Mum surely did. That was the first of a long line his Mum hung with pride on her fridge door. Stayed there for the whole rest of the year… guessing he doesn’t remember that, either.

Failure? How can he believe his earlier, stumbling,  ungrammatical, typo and spelling error-filled attempts were failures? How can he underestimate the massive learning curve he embarked upon all those words ago when first he picked up a pencil? How else should he have learned his skills of today?  Did he never heed the famous words of Robert F. Kennedy – “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

Maybe all those loving family, friends who heaped so much longed-for praise upon his passionate efforts were white-lying because of their love and/or admiration, or simply a dear wish to encourage and a desire not to squash a budding talent. If this helped Cringe to reach the level of expertise he enjoys today, does yesterday’s questionable acclaim matter?

Does Cringe ever take a moment to recognise and take pride in the monumental progress he’s made? It surely doesn’t sound that way when you hear him express gratitude his earliest ‘stuff’ is lost somewhere, way back; or the wish to burn early efforts or flush them away. How daunting to find some words are out there somewhere, in print maybe, or part of a recorded interview gathering dust on some back shelf. He believes none of these count? Really?

Ohh dear, Cringe, my friend. Those first faltering steps along your wordy journey launched all that you are today. They deserve celebration, not condemnation. The dream of admiration and notoriety [even a dash of filthy richness?] was the catalyst to bring you to today’s hopeful recognition that in the final analysis, you write for you and only you. And then wrote it all down for others to see and weep over… or not?

Do yourself a favour, Cringe. Next time you embark upon a writing reminiscence, make sure the main part of that vision of yesteryear features the irresistible buzz that walked hand-in-hand with your enthusiasm. And the passion that lit a fire in your belly to create whatever poured out of your heart and head; the belief an untapped genius had arrived… to be unleashed upon a gasping, wondrous world.

Be honest, Cringe. Felt good, huh? In those halcyon days, there were no recriminations… only blood, sweat and tears as you strived to learn more; to be more enough for your own self. And that’s no shabby ambition. Ever.


OMP Admin Note:  Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

To find out more about Christine and her work:

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

Christine Larsen, AuthorIMG_7208

 – on Wattpad

–  on Facebook

– on Tablo

– on Amazon

Old McLarsen had some Farms (farming memoirs)

ceedee4kids (Christine’s children’s book site)


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

 

 

Home from Home?? ~~ by Christine Larsen

Home from Home?? ~~ by Christine Larsen

The first raindrops hadn’t registered in her ears or mind; so light and far between were they. Little more than a soft breeze drove them… at first.

Rachel peered out the window – even opened it slightly, hopeful of a welcome freshness. A cleansing, she thought. God knows how much we need that. And she imagined luxuriating in a hot shower instead of that hated yet strangely welcome ‘basin bath’. OK for Josh, with his typical young boy aversion to soap or anything that smelled clean! But not Penny. At this age, she’d take a contrary stance to Josh on anything and everything… and to most other boys as well.

The surrounding gloom dragged Rachel’s heart and soul down, deepened by the earliest light of day remaining hidden behind a vast, solid-looking wall of clouds. A quick glance at her old, trusty watch confirmed daylight was near. She smiled. You never let me down old friend.

A deafening clap of thunder drove all else from mind as the gentle thrumming abruptly changed tempo. Impossible to tell whether huge raindrops or hailstones were battering the bitumen stretching emptily away. Rachel’s mental meanderings washed away as cleanly as layers of dust from her family car.

I’ve always loved hearing rain on a roof, she thought. Always. But  I never thought we’d be hearing it quite like this.

 Her sadness and despair deepened. He’d threatened to take everything many times but she found herself refusing to accept a Liam so cruel, a break so brutal. This was not the man she’d married; the life they’d planned to build and share.

“And the children?” she’d asked, and heard her voice wearing an unfamiliar cloak of desperation. Surely parental love would sway him? But this stranger with Liam’s face refused to acknowledge feelings, reasoning, logic. Nothing moved him. He simply didn’t care.  His rejection was just as final for these children he’d fathered.

“They’ll be fine,” he continued as if having an everyday chat about shopping, or taking Josh to football practice, Penny to ballet class. “You’ll see to that. You always do.” Now his voice held an unexpected venom, as he grabbed her chin and shook it threateningly. An unpleasant, coppery taste filled her mouth, nearly quenching that newly found determination. You won’t hit me again… not now, not EVER again.

“You’re so bloody good at EVERYTHING, right?” But she wasn’t.  Especially when she discovered all their important documents bore only his name. Everything except clothing. Hers and their children’s.  Only a fraction of their possessions could come along to their gypsy-like existence – sleeping in the car, night after endless night as they waited… and waited for that  ‘emergency’ housing. Hmmph… some emergency! Tears of anger threatened the iron reserve of her public face. Alone whilst Penny and Josh slept through restlessness and an odd moan breaking through, she could drop her guard.

Abruptly, beads of sweat pearled Rachel’s lip as a shadow loomed outside the fogged up windows. Previously she’d left back windows open only inches to avoid giveaway signs of occupancy within their darkened car; a forlorn hope to not alert security guards. Last time, they were kind enough, but it was their job to move squatters on – even in the middle of a lonely night.

Now, Rachel dared not wipe the smallest peephole for fear of what she might discover only inches away. Elbows pressing into her sides, she tried making her body even smaller in a desperate attempt at concealment. Her grip tightened on the knife beneath her pillow, never slackening even when that shadow melted away. Had he really gone?  A major distrust of men now haunted her.

At last, Rachel’s eyes were forced into a kind of lockdown, after tearing up once too often from strained staring at elusive shapes that were mostly her imaginings. Her rest was never complete, always grabbed in fits and starts until the next foreign sound set off her personal alarm. Like little Josh’s beloved teddy bear, she figured –

‘Someone’s got to keep their eyes open all the time.’


OMP Admin Note:  Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire IMG_7208to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

To find out more about Christine and her work:

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

Christine Larsen, Author

 – on Wattpad

–  on Facebook

– on Tablo

– on Amazon

Old McLarsen had some Farms (farming memoirs)

ceedee4kids (Christine’s children’s book site)


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

 

Dancing with Daffodils ~~ by #OMP writer Christine Larsen

Dancing with Daffodils ~~ by #OMP writer Christine Larsen

My family history reveals quite a few deaths by various cancers over a span of four or more generations.

This could strike fear into many present-day hearts – or at the least, cause more than a little disquiet – a sharpened intake of breath – perhaps an unexpected thudding in the chest. However… unless scientific research proves the opposite to current thinking, these cancers are unrelated and carry no sinister genetic ramifications for me and mine. No more chance of that dreaded diagnosis than 138,000 other Australians estimated to hear the devastating news this year.

This was reason enough for me to tuck any doubts way back into one of the dark recesses of my ‘think-tank’. UNTIL… the deaths of several dear friends, my father-in-law in 1985 and my Mother in 1999, changed all previous odds and thinking.

What could possibly lighten the burden of this bringer of darkness to the soul – this cruel destroyer? And pondered some before realising the answer was already right in front of us – DAFFODIL DAY.

The Cancer Council Australia began in 1961, expanded nation-wide in 1997, and adopted the glorious Daffodil as their emblem to raise awareness and produce messages and merchandise to raise money for Cancer research, education, support – and inspiring care and renewed hope in the hearts of victims AND their families.

Apart from its obvious beauty, we wondered why the choice of the Daffodil. Here are the actual words from the Cancer Council –

The Daffodil was chosen because of its reputation as a hardy annual flower; pushing its way through the frozen earth after a long winter to herald the return of spring, new life, vitality and growth. As one of the first flowers of spring, the Daffodil symbolises rebirth and new beginnings. To Cancer Council, and many affected by cancer, the Daffodil represents hope for a cancer-free future.

AND then the Cancer Council divulged that recent research revealed a natural extract from Daffodils holds cancer-killing properties – a concentration that could trigger cancer cell death.  Imagine… all that wrapped in a supremely beautiful parcel.

Our individual way to observe and salute this emblem of hope and renewal took place at our two mothers’ funerals. Each had died a year apart in August. We held each funeral on Daffodil Day and requested donations to the Cancer Council in lieu of flowers – despite which some dear souls gave both.

What we gave, apart from a wondrously huge wreath of mainly roses on each coffin, were dozens of daffodils on their proud, long stems for each of the mourners to set into those great wreaths. In the shortest time, the final resting places of our darlings were transformed into a blaze of golden joy – a wonderful symbol of all they gave to every life they touched, bringing countless smiles to shine through the tears.

As William Wordsworth wrote –

‘And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the Daffodils.’

On Daffodil Day – and any other day when your heart is over-burdened with grief and loss, maybe these beautiful thoughts can help –

To lose someone you love is to alter your life forever…

The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes…

This hole in your heart is the shape of the one you lost – no one else can fit it.

~ Jeanette Winterson


OMP Admin Note:  Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

To find out more about Christine Larsen, Author, and her work:  IMG_7208

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

 – on Wattpad

–  on Facebook

– on Tablo

– on Amazon

Old McLarsen had some Farms (farming memoirs)

ceedee4kids (Christine’s children’s book site)


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology