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July Story Chat: “Sometimes a Miracle” by Gary A. Wilson

Welcome to July Story Chat. This month we have a medical family drama by Gary A. Wilson. It kept me on the edge of my seat, so I’ve just put out some hard candies to keep your mouth moist and some taffy if you get too nervous to keep you from chewing on your nails. Oh, and don’t forget to keep hydrated.

“Sometimes a Miracle”

In the summer of 1961, Rockford was 24 and could not have been prepared the afternoon his wife tried to reach him at a job site. The homeowner hurried out to tell him, “Rock, Carolyn just called. She needs you to meet them at the hospital. Something’s wrong with Ann.”

He asked, “Did she say what? Ann had a sore throat the past few days but . . .”

“Ann’s fever went higher. She called the doctor who told her to hurry to the hospital. Rock, she’s really scared. Go — please go.”

“Thanks Martha. I’ll call when . . .”

“Shoo! Just go.”

Rockford and Carolyn Jensen, had married right after graduating from high school. They both worked after school, dated then married and quickly started their new lives together. Carolyn dreamed of college, but children happened instead. Rock struggled with academics so never considered college because he could build or fix almost anything. Even with his job at the tile store, Rock was always working side jobs to earn extra money for the family. On this day, their son, Arthur was five and Ann was only three. Rock began to fear as he climbed into his truck. What could be wrong with Ann that we have to rush to the hospital?

When he arrived, Rock was directed to a waiting room where Carolyn and Arthur were sitting. As soon as she saw him, she hurried to the reception desk and told the nurse that her husband had arrived. She ran over to him and into his arms.

“Babe, something terrible is happening. Her fever got so high and they took her from me and wouldn’t let us go with her. The doctor wanted you to be here to tell us both what’s happening.”

The doctor appeared and came to sit with them.

“Hello Rock. I’m sorry to drag you in but need to tell you that Ann is very sick. There are two common bacterial infections. They’re named staphylococcus and streptococcus and they’re both serious. You’ll hear them abbreviated ‘staph’ and ‘strep’. The test cultures aren’t back from the lab yet but we are certain that Ann has had both for several days.”

At this Carolyn gasped and uttered, “Her sore throat and . . . and those blisters on her face. . . .”

“Yes, strep presents as a burning sore throat and turns into rheumatic fever which causes heart damage. Staph is giving her those blisters. It can follow her blood system to damage her lungs or heart or lots of other organs. Her symptoms getting worse fast.”

Rock was stunned, almost unable to imagine his child being so sick.

Carolyn visibly struggled to remain calm but asked, ” What can you do?”

“We’ve isolated her to prevent spreading either disease, so she’s scared. And we’ve started her on sulfa antibiotics that fight both strep and staph, but they don’t work as well as they used to. This is why I wanted to talk with you both. You need to understand that Ann’s infections are fully developed and if the sulfa meds don’t work we don’t have anything else to try.”

“Rock, Carolyn, I’m sorry but we could lose her in just a few days.”

Rock was overwhelmed.

Carolyn struggled to contain her tears, but failed as Rock took her in his arms.

“Nurse, please watch Arthur while I take them to their daughter.”

Past some double doors, their long walk through the hospital, antiseptic smells, the echoing sounds, and the bright florescent lights together transformed that hallway into the longest, darkest path any parent could travel.

Rock held Carolyn close as they looked through the window into the isolation ward. Ann was laid out with tubes and machines attached to her tiny body. Her face was now half covered with open, puffy blisters. This was their baby Ann in the middle of a living nightmare.

“One of you can gown-up and go see her.” Carolyn insisted on going, so the doctor took Rock back to the waiting room.

Over the next two days they sent Arthur to stay with family while they tried different sulfa drugs an Ann.  She only got worse.

In tears one afternoon, Carolyn reported through the glass window, “Rock, she’s choking on the pain in her throat. She’s lost her voice and those damned sulfa drugs are worthless!”

Rock and Carolyn’s souls were shredding as they helplessly watched Ann’s face disappear behind a grotesque mask of festering blisters and her moving only to spasm through a stabbing cough followed by her weak cries of pain.

One afternoon, their exhausted doctor was trying to give them the latest bad news of how they were going to try even stronger sulfa drugs that might have harmful side-effects. Carolyn was almost empty of tears and Rock barely able to think when an administrator rushed into the room and approached the doctor.

“Sorry to interrupt but, Doctor, you wanted to know immediately when we any response from the pharmacy supplier. They called and left this message.”

The doctor snatched the paper and smiled as he read.

“Rock; Carolyn, this might be the news we’ve been praying for.  There’s a new antibiotic that has just become available. It’s not another sulfa drug and has been known about for years but production has been limited but now, we have it. Tomorrow we’ll be starting Ann on a new drug with a startling record of success. Finally, this — is very good news.”

“What is it?” Rock asked.

“You may have heard of penicillin. The newest version is ampicillin and is being calling it a miracle drug.”

Within two weeks after starting on ampicillin, Ann was home and playing with friends as normal.

= = ( o ) = =

This fictional story was based on actual events.

In the real account, my younger sister was miraculously saved by this just-in-time new drug. Ampicillin was our miracle drug in 1961.  Within two weeks after starting on ampicillin, she was home and playing with friends as normal and 60 years later, she’s enjoying a normal life.

Now It’s Your Turn

Story Chat is all about you – your’ 500-1,000 word unpublished stories – your comments. Read the story. Ask questions. Support and build on each others ideas. Argue with each other. Pop a candy in your mouth. Talk with you mouth full of taffy if you want.

114 replies »

  1. Good morning Marsha. Yes, it is time to do this. I’ve downed one mug of tea and am ready for the second. It was a great long weekend for writing so I’m ready for another week word-wrangling. Let’s do this.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Sue. Correct, but I like to think that we have some very clever folks looking for the next miracle drug or treatment for nasty bugs like these. Maybe the 50 some-odd years of penicillin based drugs have allowed the bugs to forget that sufa-based treatments once worked too.

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  3. That would have been such a frightening situation! Gary, you did a great job grabbing and maintaining my interest and making the reader feel the tension and stress the parents found themselves in. As someone who is allergic to sulfa-based drugs, I am doubly pleased that better alternatives have been developed. As Sue mentioned, we are running out of options, especially with the over/mis-use of antibiotics. No parent should have to go through what Ann’s (and, I guess, your parents, Gary) went through.

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    • Hi Janis, I do have pieces of memories of the event but one really bad one when I saw my sister with what looked like a mask of blisters that covered 2/3rds of her face at the hospital. Even though she was younger, her memory is better than mine, but her recovery was indeed miraculous and fast. I thought that her near miss with death was a story worth telling. I’ve changed the names and surrounding scenes some, but this is basically what happened. I’m a dad myself and can’t imagine what it was like for my parents when we knew so much less about such things and other children in this same situation did not fare as well.

      Thanks for weighing in Janis.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Gary you did what is so hard to do, at least for me, to take something so close to home and add the emotional conversations that must have taken place. It’s inspiring.

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    • I have had allergies to penicillin all my life. A visit to an allergist for the first time a few weeks ago tested me and said I had outgrown it. But I’ve had ampicillin at various times in my life with little problem. It was a miracle drug. It’s a shame those viruses are so smart.

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      • Often, writing about a trauma can help one process or settle the event somehow. For me, the writer wants to create something compelling while the teacher in me wants to educate and help others progress through life with eyes and minds wide open..

        It can be a huge task, but I want to be a author who produces stories that compel, inform and entertain. Like many other skills, each story seems to get better.

        Being allergic to penicillin must have causes you to be more careful than others about avoiding infections and staying clean. That task seems huge in my mind, even overwhelming.

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        • To be honest, Gary, I was just a normal kid, fell down, got dirty, cleaned up, got sick, got well, and went on. God has blessed me. Penicillin has not been an issue one way or another. 🙂 Thanks again for this riveting story. I look forward to more! 🙂

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  4. Held my breath all the way through. As a child, my mother had scarlet fever as a result of a similar infection and had to learn to walk again. The family was quarantined and my grandfather was unable to work. It was a very difficult time. But Mom has lived to be 94 years old and is still doing well. Penicillin was definitely a miracle drug for so many. I was given it so many times, I have developed a life-threatening allergic reaction to it. But have also outgrown many of the infections I had as a child. Great story, Gary.

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    • Hi and thanks for giving it a read.
      I was pretty sure it would resonate with someone and it sounds like you are the one. Scary stuff indeed.
      I’m just thankful that for both of us the real story turned out so much better than might-have-been.
      Thanks also for the very kind feedback.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for sharing your difficult story. Your mother did well. My dad had scarlet fever as well, and was sickly all his life. He would be 94 if he was still here but had cancer and died at 63. Penicillin was available, but not developed, and ampicillin came along when I was a child.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. They say the best stories are based on true stories. This one is one of those stories. I’m not a fan of medical dramas, but I was hooked by your story, Gary. I liked it as well because you gave me a glimpse into the introduction of penicillin. Most of us have heard of it but probably don’t know someone who was at the forefront of it being used to save lives so early on.
    Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hey Hugh,
      I’m so glad you checked in and found my story hooked you. There are several ways to tell history and I’ve always like the approach of historical fiction. I created characters similar to my family but scrambled things to make it fiction and more focused than our real account of events. But I liked the idea of taking readers to a difficult place at a time when they did not have the benefit of the technologies we have today, given them a terrible situation, even a hopeless one and try to capture what they must have felt. The image of a child dying for lack of a solution we have readily in hand has been a powerful one for me, because it is a real memory, but could I succeed at taking a reader there and then impart a gush of relief like the timely arrival of a newly available drug, like happened to us, seemed to me to be a drama that could only fail if I wrote it poorly.
      Your response gives me hope that I was able to tell it well enough at least by one man’s measure.
      Thanks so much Hugh for your time and very kind feedback.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Oh, and Hugh, thanks also for calling out one of the things I love to do with my writing — highlighting some little known fact or piece of technology. Science in particular is hard for some to reach, but well told story images can suddenly make the history of the arrival of a new antibiotic meaningful by putting (even fictional) names and faces around the facts.
        In a very different way, I did the same think with another story, Cosmic Gold, that I invite anyone to check out. It’s a fun little piece about a young man who did NOT have a crush on a young girl.

        Cosmic Gold

        Liked by 1 person

        • Before I read your story, I’d always thought penicillin was discovered in the 1930s, Gary. Why? I don’t know, but that’s as much as I knew about it.

          I’ve just read Cosmic Gold and am astounded by the scientific facts in it. I learned so much from reading it. I left you a comment on it about where you got the facts from. It was a fun read.

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          • I just saw it. Thanks Hugh for this kind feedback.
            Penicillin does go back pretty far, but it was not well understood, safe to manufacture or widely available until ampicillin was created.

            This kind of fiction is one of my favorite play grounds – it’s the stuff I most enjoy reading myself.

            I’ve had some great feedback on this story from outside the WP comment thread from many who had no idea where gold, or other heavy elements come from. Turns out I wasn’t the only one who took them for granted in this sense.

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          • I think you and I both share the joy of capturing someone with a good story. One of my passions is using a good story to teach something or leave the germ of a thought in mind that makes my reader think. I’m still pretty new at producing stories that are of a quality worth sharing. but I’m on course I think.

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          • I think you and I both share the joy of capturing someone with a good story. One of my passions is using a good story to teach something or leave the germ of a thought in mind that makes my reader think. I’m still pretty new at producing stories that are of a quality worth sharing. but I’m working on getting better.

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        • Same here, Gary. I love writing stories with an ending that leaves the reader thinking more about what they’ve just read. I always enjoy readers telling me what they thought happened. This is why Story Chat is such a great feature.

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          • Hugh is really the brains behind Story Chat, Gary. We both worked out how Story Chat was going to look and he wrote the first story, and it took off from there!

            Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve written a few pieces of historical flash fiction and enjoyed the experience, Gary. However, my pieces were from a time well before I was around, although I recently published a post about one of my stories where somebody left a comment suggesting I may have experienced the event in a former life. It was an interesting discussion.

        I guess that when most of us write fiction, we base it on true life events. In fact, I’ve always believed that much of what I write is based on what I’ve experienced. Even some of my science fiction stories set in the future had me basing characters in my home, so there always seems to be an element of what we’ve experienced in them.

        You did a great job with the story. It came over very well. Had me there at the hospital with you.

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        • Agreed Hugh.
          I’ve done the same despite trying to not lean on my own experiences. Yet another reason to read. It’s one of the best ways to find inspiration from someone else’s experiences.

          Thanks for the encouragement.

          Liked by 2 people

  6. This was a real rollercoaster of a ride Gary, you told the story well, and as it based on real events it means even more. I’m so pleased your sister got the new drugs in time and has enjoyed a long and active life. It must have been awful for the family at the time.

    It’s interesting that I was hospitalised about a year later than your story at age 18 months, with pneumonia which turned into double pneumonia and then I got Golden Staph on top of that. I was in hospital for many months and very very sick. I ended up having some of my lung removed and antibiotics were my lifeline from what my mother tells me. I went to a rehab hospital for many more months but thankfully I have had few issues since that time. I have a rocking good scar on my side where they took some of my lung, in those days scars were mean looking – there went my bikini modelling days!

    Anyway, your story reminded me of my own true story of survival, so many thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, Deb, thanks for sharing your story as well. What a harrowing situation. You look and act so healthy now, no one would ever suspect you had such a hard beginning. I expect that Gary’s sister is the same. Thanks for the lovely comment.

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      • It’s interesting and in a good way, that I really wouldn’t know about the horrors of the situation today apart from my scar and my family’s memories of that awful time. My father was away at sea in the Navy and they wouldn’t let him off the ship, unless I died! My mother has never forgiven the Navy for their heartless attitude.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Your poor mom, that had to be unbearably frightening. I was in the hospital for a month at birth because of my double cleft lip surgery. Neither mom or dad talked about it being a hard time for them, just a shock, but I was a healthy 8 pound baby. All my mom ever said about it was that I was constantly held by nurses and doctors all day long and Dad complained that he couldn’t take pictures of his new baby. We are so lucky that medical science has been so effective in our lives. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, Deb – your own story sounds pretty scary. At that age you might not recall much of it but your parents must have been emotionally scared for life by it. Two of our three kids have had medical brushes with death, but both were much more easily dealt with than your or my sister’s situations and as their dad I can recall being fully scared and attentive to anything I needed and could know about the plan for their recovery.

    Thanks for giving it a read and for the kind feedback. I love having an audience for my stories but the best are those who I know and respect as writer’s themselves. Your story chat piece still echos around my brain.

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  8. Oh my gosh, Marsha! So many comments!
    It’s been a while since we’ve been in contact. But so glad I saw this post.
    I loved it. Well done, Gary! I liked the title, too.
    Thanks,
    Amy

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  9. Hi Gary
    You tell a compelling story as I know from your blog and maintain a nice pace and tension throughout. Sometime those BOTS are a great basis for story telling, aren’t they?
    One thing to think about when creating fiction from a true piece is to try and use the ‘rules’ of fiction writing rather than slip into those of memoir writing (rules, what rules?). In fiction the old saw, show don’t tell is a cliché and there for a good reason; in memoir telling is the point of the exercise. So, in your piece I’d suggest you think about the section where you tell us about Caroline and Rock’s back story, how they met, her aspiration to go to college, his skills with repairing anything. They have little to do with the story itself and introduce a drag when all we want to do is get to the hospital and find out what’s up with Ann. Hope this helps because you’ve pulled out a nice line in story via dialogue and emotion from that awful event and maybe it can be even better. Take care, Geoff

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Geoff.

      Thanks for calling this out for attention. I was worried about leaving it in and wondered if it would stick out, be a distraction or (as you suggest) a speed bump.

      Given the allowance of more words, I do prefer to put the story into the mouths or thoughts of my characters and I wanted this piece of fiction to do that, but previous to starting my blog, I was rightfully accused of flatening out my characters by not spending time & words making them human. You could read pages of my stories and know little more about my characters than their name. Since a respected reader & writer called me on that, I’ve always tried to put skin and personality on those names.

      In this case, 1000 words squeezed me and to tell enough of the story for it to work at all it had to be tight and still bring my reader into the hospital via the reactions of the parents. I thought that would work better if the omniscient narrator dropped a small info dump on the two parents before sending them into peril.

      I had to cut a lot from the first drafts to get the story down to size and considered slicing out that paragraph but, I really felt like the reader needed to know them.

      So I was torn. Still am actually. Your comment is spot on! Thanks

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  10. Hi Gary – you kept this short and masterfully succinct –
    felt the action and it is a great reminder of the power of medicine –
    and I had a professor in the early 1990s – Dr. Beal – who as an emeritus – and was retired and at our school teaching Botany for fun – he was an entomologist and cool guy
    Anyhow, he said he briefly worked (in the late 40s) with folks that worked on penicillin in late 20s (something like that) – he had some connection and was proud of it

    anyhow, I am also glad that antibiotics are not being over prescribed as I think there have been decades where that happened – and in my very humble opinion – I have seen so many folks sick with auto immune disorders who also have had antibiotics “to many times to count” – is there a correlation? I think so because the gut is our second brain (see the work of Dan Siegal) and antibiotics rob the good flora – (and I know nowadays they are often prescribing flora after antibiotics) but then consider the standard American diet and overdue of antibiotics and people are vulnerable to gut problemsand that impacts all health –

    I had to mention that because your story today reminded me of the GOOD side of antibiotics – after I ws kind of becoming so anti the I forgot they save lives still

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Prior,

      I’m so glad you stopped by and gave my story a read. Keeping this one short was a chore. I wanted to fill out the parents a lot more so readers would know them better as they went down that long hallway, but my publisher drew the line at 1000 so comply I did. It took a lot of shaving.

      What a treat it would have ben to meet someone who was part of the initial discovery and development of such a drug. it is too bad that it took so long to get production to be such that it could be widely used because those sufa meds had pretty much hit the wall and we were losing many to diseases that could have been easily cured. The timing was the story and often I’ve thought of how close we came to loosing my sister.

      My one big memory of the time was her looking out at us from her hospital window. After not seeing her for several days, I was shocked by the mask of blisters that covered most of her face. It was not a pretty memory and scared me pretty good for her chances of survival.

      Later, as a late teenager, I used to get sttep-throat every year. The first time, I didn’t recognize it and let it go too long and almost waited too long before getting a shot of ampicillin which wiped it out virtually overnight.

      Amazing stuff and, I think, a compelling story. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.

      Liked by 2 people

    • When you need medicine, it’s a miracle when it helps. I have grown up with the aid of medicine, so I appreciate both doctors and the most of the medicines they prescribe. I don’t take the pain meds mostly because I’ve never needed them after any surgery and partly because I don’t want to get hooked. Getting rid of old medicine is another hazard we have to deal with now, too.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. It feels like things are winding down for this chat. Before everyone scatters to other demands, I wanted to thank Marsha for standing up and running such a useful discussion. I’ve appreciated each of you for your comments and encouragement. You make me want to write more and write better.

    Thank you all.

    Marsha, you’ve built a great community here and I am so pleased to have been a part of it.
    I’m looking forward to upcoming story chats.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are most welcome, Gary. It’s been a pleasure to host your story here. Now it’s all yours to make changes, as you wish and take it to the next step. 🙂

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  12. Sorry to be late to the party but somehow this story post escaped me.

    As a childhood polio survivor myself, I have every reason to thank the dedicated medical scientists who found the vaccine that I missed by a few years.

    I’d encourage everyone to read more about the discovery and development of penicillin, including the fact that Howard Florey from my home State of South Australia shared the Nobel Prize with Fleming and others. It was Florey, along with Ernst Chain who actually made a useful and effective drug out of penicillin, after the task had been abandoned as too difficult by it’s discoverer, Fleming.

    Now back to the story, Gary. As an historical snapshot of a medical miracle that obviously deeply touched your family, it works well. As a short story though I’m inclined to agree with Geoff. The parents feel two-dimensional and much of the dialogue is stilted as a result, which loses a lot of urgent momentum. It’s an excellent reminder that if a story is too big for 1,000 words, let it go where it needs to rather than try to cram into a pre-set format. However as a dedicated Carrot Rancher myself for a couple of years, I have to agree with Marsha that you should try out this community that is learning the skill of creative succinctness from the inimitable Charli Mills.
    All the best for your future creative endeavours, Gary.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your comment, Doug. I never knew that you had polio. It was such a feared disease. I was fortunate to have had the vaccination but I have met people younger than I am who suffered from it.

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  13. Hi Doug.

    I don’t think we’ve met, but after your comment, rest assured, you’ll always be welcome to comment on my work. This is very useful – and I feel that agreeing is simply a given because I did try to cram it into 1000 words and felt a lot of the flavor of the story getting lost as I pared it down.

    It’s a good lesson. When I began blogging, my first project was to capture stories about growing up that would be short reads that would be both autobiographical and fun on their own merit. I decided to use 10 minutes as a self imposed read-time limit which I calculated to be 2000 words or less.

    So I have some practice at being succinct but a limit to half of that, i.e. Marsha’s 1K limit, was new and a challenge I was keen on trying. The first draft of this story went to about 1.6K words so it was painful making it fit.

    Thanks for reading it and for your helpful feedback.

    Liked by 2 people

    • One project you could do, Gary is to write a 99 word summary of all of your stories. We talked about the Carrot Ranch Literary Community. That’s what I do for every Story Chat. It does give a lot of clarity. Then if you get really ambitious, you can pare it down to 9 words. That is a real challenge. But it is doable. Doug is an expert at it. It’s really hard for me, but go to Carrot Ranch and check out some the flash fiction. You’ll learn a lot.

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      • Thanks Marsha. I’ve considered the Carrot Ranch and thought it interesting but, at the time, wanted to finish up a few other projects and the lady who created it was struggling with, and I think finally lost her battle with cancer. Since then, I’ve accomplished most of what I wanted to finish but have not heard how that project is going to continue. Do you happen to know?
        Also, I like the idea of condensing my own blog collection into 99 words (or thereabouts). Would this be something you’d use in wrapping up the story chat for “Sometimes a miracle”?

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        • Exactly. If you look at my other story chats, I’ve summarized them all in 99 words, and some of them I did it in 9 words. Charli, the creator of Carrot Ranch does not, nor did not have cancer. Sue Vincent, a good friend recently passed with cancer. Carrot Ranch is alive and thriving. I just talked by email to Charlie yesterday. 🙂

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          • Ah – I thought Sue was the creator of the CR and read much about her contributions and passion. Such a loss! I have grabbed some links to see how to fit some CR time into my weeks.

            I’ll also get you tight summary of my collection for use in folding up the story chat. I thought it went very well. I know I got a lot of value from it. How much time do I have to get it to you?

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          • You don’t need to do that, Gary. It was just a suggestion to do for yourself. I summarize your story, and weave the comments together in the final post. You don’t have to do anything else. 🙂 You’re golden. 🙂 I’ll be sending you a picture to put in a widget on your blog i

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  14. I’m old enough to remember polio, Doug. I also remember presenters of Blue Peter (a UK children’s programme) interviewing children in iron lungs. A terrifying disease.
    Childhood diseases went around the school like lightning (German measles in particular is one our parents wanted the girls to catch while they were young, so there was little chance of them getting it in adulthood while pregnant and damaging the unborn.) Vaccination has defeated so many diseases.
    As has penicillin. what a shame it has been over-prescribed to the point of bacterial resistance – we know better now. I’m not old enough to have much knowledge of medicine before penicillin (I was a particularly robust child) but my husband’s older sister died at six from pneumonia which could probably have been routinely treated such a short time later.
    I’m sure you must have researched those medical terms, Gary, to make sure you got them right (and their spellings!) Real life is always a good basis for a story – what a raw deal: getting both at once! Once your story becomes ‘fiction’ though, there’s nothing to stop you adding a little more to the mix – like stirring up the tension even more around the possibility of young Arthur having been exposed to the bacteria. (In fact, what a blessing you escaped it!)

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    • Hi Cathy.
      It’s good to meet you.

      Do you recall the sugar cubes they used for the polio vaccine? I recall thinking this was the best tasting medicine ever.

      This kind of story does lend itself to lots of additional drama- but Marsha wisely kept the length limit @ 1000 words so I had to keep it fairly tight.

      Thanks for stopping by to check it out.

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      • I remember polio jabs when they WERE jabs – BEFORE they went sugar-loaded.
        I’ve edited down so many stories for competitions that I kind of enjoy the process now. When I send it off to another comp with more generous limits I don’t always reinstate everything.

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    • What a good point, Cathy. That could have been a double tragedy had both children gotten the disease. That changes the dynamics entirely. One of my problems with writing fiction from real life is that I want to make the fact agree to what happened in reality. It’s quite freeing when you realize you don’t have to do that anymore. What you do have to be careful of in a fictional story is that the facts of the story add up. You can’t have someone die in one chapter and appear several chapters later with no explanation just because you forgot that you killed them in chapter 25.

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          • I planned a novel based on our family home, but someone will say ‘Oh, that’s her daughter; that’s her ex, that’s the eldest son…’ the fact that the dogs were mostly based on dogs we had doesn’t help. I’ve given up the idea altogether, despite having finished a first draft.

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          • In my November Story Chat, the character was based on my family with me as Jenny. Not too many of the events were real, but some of them were based on things that happened in that area – just not to me. The parents had some semblance to my parents. I wrote the entire story but have never published it. We should switch stories and add in our own bits and publish them! LOL

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          • I think we all add in bits of people we know and events from our past to our stories, but I’ve decided a whole novel would be trying the tolerance of my family too much

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          • LOL, My family is all gone except my brother, but I still hesitate. Isn’t that crazy? And the story is truly fiction. The other characters did not exist.

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        • Hi Cathy.

          I’ve had some good luck with a project that was based on my actual history, but wove it around my family with very few mentions of them or their names. The stories focused on my perspective only and did not dive into things that would be embarrassing to anyone except myself. They stories were meant to be be entertaining, so have some playful hyperbole and lots of outright sarcasm.

          I do have a couple of stories about my parents that feature some iconic event they were well known for. For example: my mom, was an amazing and audacious woman who actually pulled the stunt in this story.
          https://garyawilsonstories.wordpress.com/the-insurance-company-adventure/

          My dad would not have been capable of such things. He was closer to Rock from my story above. The name “Rock” actually was a great uncle who was gone by the time I walked the planet, but was himself an iconic personality that I frequently heard about as a child. My dad’s iconic story is captured in this story that I also recounted at his funeral, which had the room laughing out loud – just as dad would have preferred.
          https://garyawilsonstories.wordpress.com/the-chainsaw-adventure/

          I used a tone I’ve come to call, first person rowdy, and told them as if the reader and I were sitting down to share a meal or drink together and we got to telling stories about a time when . . .
          Sometimes I grabbed a hold of a truth I learned via some event but most of the stories are just entertaining with no personal history data dumps other than whatever was needed to set the scene.
          I also limited all these essays to 2000 words so that almost any reader could consume them in 10 minutes. My family is the backdrop to one story that was a surprise hit with my readers.
          https://garyawilsonstories.wordpress.com/of-crashes-and-christmas/

          Thus, this project became the reason for my blog and for a long time my tagline was Dime of Time Stories.
          I’ve been very pleased with the results and after building up a collection of 70+ stories, I’ve begun to branch out into producing fictional stories of different lengths.

          Oddly, now I struggle with finding my voice of humor in my fiction but am loving capturing short essays that just plain leave a reader with a vivid image and thinking about something. One example is this piece based on several real and fictional people.
          https://garyawilsonstories.wordpress.com/the-fading-fern-frond-brooch/

          But overall, I enjoy weaving reality into my stories, either autobiographical or pure fiction and have yet to hit a wall by embarrassing or hurting anyone’s feelings. I try to stick to my own foibles, not theirs.

          Thanks for being a part of the discussion of my story. I’m very pleased to have met you.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Great memories in those stories. As regards humour – our writing group ‘homework’ for last month was a humorous story. now, I can do ‘funny’ when I’m not trying – either something funny crops up or it doesn’t, but I can’t manufacture humour. I end up like one of those lame stand-up comedians whose timing is all wrong. I cheated and sent a story I wrote before I joined the group, and it prompted other second-time-around stories, so clearly we’re not all feeling funny this month.
            Nice to meet you too, Gary.

            Liked by 1 person

          • And then there are those of us whose sense of humor is a bit off as compared to the “normal” people. I can’t bear watching sitcoms and certainly could never write for one.
            Humor is much harder than I expected.
            Thanks for checking out my stories Catthy. Hopefully a few smiles resulted.

            Liked by 2 people

          • Cathy, you are sooooo funny in your blog stories. I hear you about being funny when you’re not trying. That the kinds of funny I am, too. I am not a comedian. Very few people are.

            Liked by 1 person

  15. What a powerful and moving story, Arthur. Thank the scientists for ampicillan and a good outcome for Ann. I’m pleased she survived and has continued to do so for many a year.
    I could not help but feel for Arthur who was right there in the waiting room hearing the discussion about his little sister. It must have been upsetting for him, I think. Was it? How did you feel? How did you respond?
    And just by the by – my grandson Arthur is big brother to his little sister Anna. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Norah,

      Thank you for this very kind feedback. It is gratifying that you felt what I was trying to portray.

      I really was too young to understand much of it at the time, but my family has been thankful for this medical miracle ever since. I have fragments of memories of the dread I felt and was told that I was a wreck because I understood that my sister was dying, but I don’t recall much of that. Blocked it out I suppose.

      In the real story behind this fictional one, I did not witness either the diagnosis or hear of the timely arrival of this new drug until the nightmare was mostly past. It was nightly nice to have her come home and be so clearly on the mend.

      For what it’s worth, we grew up pretty normal after that, added another sister who recalls none of this, fought and won or lost normal sibling battles. Mom and Dad went back to working and sacrificing for our welfare and comfort.

      It’s fun to note how both names showed up in your family. For the record, my middle name is Arthur and my sister’s middle name is Ann. I kept her real first name fully out of the story. Both Rock and Carolyn only resemble our real parents. This helped me get inside their heads and begin to understand their angst.

      Thanks so much for giving my story a read. That you took to time to do so means the world to this newbie writer.

      Kindest regards,

      Liked by 2 people

      • A little more peeling coming off revealing the true story and how it evolved into the fictitious one. Of course, as a child you would not have known what all was going on inside of your parent’s minds. You’ve done a great job of piecing a new reality, Gary. 🙂

        Like

        • Thanks Marcia.
          All true but as a parent now, if I had to go through what my parents went through, it would have torn my soul out watching something like this. I’d like to think that I cherish my kids as Mom & Dad cherished us. Thankfully I don’t have any direct experience of what it was like expecting your child to die unless some kind of miracle occurred.

          Liked by 1 person

      • I’m pleased to hear you went on to have a normal life with all the usual battles, Gary.
        Now I’m surprised that this story was fiction. I missed that somehow. It read real to me. I guess when ‘they’ tell us to write what we know, they’re not wrong with that, even if we fictionalise it.
        I did enjoy your story. I don’t real all posts to the end. 🙂

        Like

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Marsha

Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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