To call a book inspirational and touching, implies a sadness or impediment of some kind. This story is quite the opposite. In fact, you will smile a great deal as you read about Nick and his family going about their everyday Aussie lives. The way the book has been constructed adds a strong quality. Peter Bishop runs a writers’ retreat, Varuna, the Writers’ House, and he was approached by Nick who wanted to write his own story. So, Nick writes about an episode in his life, as it happened, and, as his editor, Peter comments or alters it a little. Often his comments show how beautifully Nick has expressed himself. To add further interest, a neighbour of Nick’s family, Caroline, is also at the retreat, and gives her insight, as a child, watching Nick’s family cope with two young, blind boys.
Nick’s story begins when he is seven years old. He is hit in the head by a heavy swinging door in the supermarket. As his Mum and Dad rush him to the hospital, his last sight is his mother’s face leaning over him with a look of love and worry. Sadly, both his retinas have been torn, and there is no solution. He will be blind forever. Also, he has an older brother who is blind. What a disaster for his family. Yet, there are no scenes of wailing or gnashing of teeth. Instead, Nick recalls how his Dad took both the boys mushrooming, and they were guided by him to bend over and feel for the mushrooms. Later, they would go to a local barbeque, and Dad would provide sausages, bread, bacon and mushrooms for them to cook and eat. Thus, life went on as normal.
Nick was lucky enough to go to a school where the staff was loving and supportive. When he was mischievous, he was never punished. Also, when he was given a football with some bells in it, by a well-known “Mighty Cats” player, he was allowed to sleep with it that first night. Nick went on to play football, and also cricket. He was always going to be athletic, and it never occurred to him or his family that his blindness should hold him back.
After an amazing life as an adventurer, a Paralympian, and captain of a cricket team, he also scaled up to the Base Camp at Everest. His greatest achievement though, would have to be meeting his wife Heather, who is also blind, and fathering two children. Trust and friendship are the basis of Nick’s story, and there is a wonderful Aussie attitude of let’s get on with it! The delightful melding of Nick’s story, Peter’s comments, and Caroline’s recollections, – talking of the times their families met together before Nick’s accident, is a joy to read.
|Author||Nick Gleeson with Peter Bishop|