Tag Archives: mental illness

Sins of the Father…Friday Fictioneers.

Nobody believed me. Not even my own mother. It was 1941. Yet, the Kennedys  were already an institution, inscrutable, and you could sense the Camelot legend peculating in the wings.

Of course, I could never say they’d made a mistake or got it wrong, especially when it came to one of their own. Yet, I’d nursed Rosemary Kennedy before and after the procedure, and knew her as she was. Such a beauty. I’d heard the rumours, but there was no justification. It was a crime.

Every week, I took her flowers, but her father never came. He didn’t make mistakes.

100 Words


Please don’t ask me how a photo of an asylum reminded of the tragic story of Rose Mary Kennedy, who was given a lobotomy in 1941 at her father’s request and spent the rest of her life in one. To read more about her story, you can click HERE.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields, where we write up to 100 words to a provided photo prompt. PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll.

Just to account for my absence last week, I stumbled across yet another extraordinary family story and I’ve had to fully immerse myself in the details before I could even begin to understand or explain what happened.

In my last post, I wrote about my grandmother, concert pianist  Eunice Gardiner. Well, I’ve always known that her father was a Merchant Mariner with the Adelaide Steamship Company. However, I’ve known almost nothing about where he went and which ships he served on. So, I was quite excited to find a random newspaper reference online which placed him on a collier called the Dilkera which crashed into a small steamer, the Wyrallah in The Rip off Port Melbourne in 1924. He was Second Mate and a witness at the inquiry. Six men tragically lost their lives when the Wyrallah sank and many of them were married with young kids, so these deaths hit particularly hard. Daddy wasn’t coming home. It’s been quite interesting reading the inquiry reports in the newspapers and realizing just how fine a line there was between those who lived and those who died and even the fact that the accident happened at all. Indeed, if you only tweaked a few details, they would have remained two ships passing in the night.

Meanwhile, I’ve had a crash course on shipping protocols, geography, technology. While Melbourne’s one of Australia’s largest cities, I’ve only been there a couple of times and if I had to describe the city, I would’ve mentioned the trams, the Yarra River, fine dining, art exhibitions and the rag trade. I’d never thought of the sea port, even though we sailed out of Port Phillip two years ago when we caught the Spirit of Tasmania across Bass Strait and through this very same Rip which has claimed quite a few lives over the years.

Now, I’m trying to assemble all of the pieces and write the story.

Best wishes,


H-Hemingway:A Surprise Letter #atozchallenge

This afternoon while we were down at the beach with the kids and the dogs, we found a glass bottle. Naturally, we picked it up. Of course, you already know there was a message from Ernest Hemingway inside . How he managed to orchestrate this moment, I don’t know. Call it serendipity, perhaps? Unaccustomed as I am to communicating with the dead, I’m never quite sure what to expect.

Dear Rowena,

Word has spread

you’re waking poets

from the dead.


Not one to miss out

on the fun,

I’ve sent a poem

for your young son.

Advice to A Son

Never trust a white man,
Never kill a Jew,
Never sign a contract,
Never rent a pew.
Don’t enlist in armies;
Nor marry many wives;
Never write for magazines;
Never scratch your hives.
Always put paper on the seat,
Don’t believe in wars,
Keep yourself both clean and neat,
Never marry whores.
Never pay a blackmailer,
Never go to law,
Never trust a publisher,
Or you’ll sleep on straw.
All your friends will leave you
All your friends will die
So lead a clean and wholesome life
And join them in the sky.

Best always,

Ernest Hemingway.

Hemingway best always-crop

When it comes to choosing role models for my son, Hemingway didn’t exactly come to mind. Known as a man’s man and into game fishing and hunting, he was also quite a drinker, had some kind of mental health issues and took his life. My son has written some good poems lately and I’m all for him becoming a writer or poet but as Hemingway wrote:

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

So, from where I’m sitting at the moment, Bob the Builder would be a much better choice:

“Bob the Builder
Can we fix it?
Bob the Builder
Yes, we can!”

Not unsurprisingly, I much prefer the idea of him fixing things, than breaking down himself. If only the thrill of writing wasn’t quite so good!

Hemingway cat

Meanwhile, you might remember the Pollicle Dogs from my correspondence with TS Eliot. As I said, they were also with us down at the beach and weren’t too happy to find another cat poem.

To Crazy Christian

There was a cat named Crazy Christian
Who never lived long enough to screw
He was gay hearted, young and handsome
And all the secrets of life he knew
He would always arrive on time for breakfast
Scamper on your feet and chase the ball
He was faster than any polo pony
He never worried a minute at all
His tail was a plume that scampered with him
He was black as night and as fast as light.
So the bad cats killed him in the fall.

– Ernest Hemingway

Of course, they’ve ended up feeling terribly offended again and I’m needing to keep them under close surveillance. After all, you might recall the rather stinky protest they left on TS Eliot’s doorstep after dark. Of course,  I also need to ensure they don’t start chasing Hemingway’s cats! His place would be a veritable smorgasbord!

As if the Pollicle Dogs weren’t trouble enough, now my daughter’s getting offended. Why haven’t any of the poets written a poem for her? Why haven’t I asked what it means to be a woman? Of course, she’s convinced I only ever think about her brother and this is just the latest confirmation. I told her that I was only halfway through but that wasn’t good enough. She wants one now!

Just to complicate things even further, I had quite a mix-up with Hemingway. To be perfectly, honest, I didn’t know Hemingway wrote poetry and strayed across his poems while doing research. I really related to a few of these poems, which seemed to be reading the thoughts of my heart. They were signed EH. The next day, I found out that Hemingway had committed suicide. Shot himself. That really hit me pretty hard to have an epiphany one night and then to find out he shot himself. That swung the mirror right back at me and said: “What does this say about you?” To be perfectly honest, I found that thought very disturbing, particularly as he wasn’t the only poet I admired who took their own life.

However, it turned out these poems weren’t by Ernest Hemingway, after all. EH is Erin Hanson a 20 year old poet living in Melbourne. Phew! What a relief!

So, as you can see, this journey is incredibly enlightening. Wow! I’m loving it, even though I feel like I’m combusting at the same time. So many poets, such little time!

This has been part of my series Letters to Dead Poets for the A-Z Challenge.

Are you doing the A-Z Challenge and how are you finding it?

xx Rowena