Donald Shephard

Anthony Algernon Croot was as lucky as he was unlucky. Whatever his luck, he kept moving forward, dealt with the situation as he perceived it to be in his mind’s eye, and smiled. He taught his sons to resist crying over spilled milk but rather to wipe it up and carry on. He liked to repeat the adage, “When you are given lemons make lemonade”. His sons groaned whenever they heard it.

His first piece of ill fortune came when he was working in his father’s dairy. He was gored across the abdomen by a cow. That was his first scar. The surgeon told him that more people are gored by cows than by bulls simply because there are many more cows than bulls. Anthony Algernon thought it would have been better to have been gored by a bull. He could have told his many future girlfriends that he was a matador in Spain. How romantic. What a pick up line; “Want to come up to my place and see my bull scar?” He imagined it would work every time.

There had not been an endless string of girlfriends and in fact when the appropriate time arrived for him to expose his scar to his wife she had only commented in passing, as it were, “Nice scar”!

Long after his sons, Anthony Junior and Algernon, were born he had his gall bladder removed by the pre-arthroscopic method. That was his second scar. It left a red mark above and parallel to his cow gore scar.

It was the gall bladder surgeon who mentioned the need for Anthony Algernon to have double hernia surgery. They waited a year watching the twin bulges grow slowly but the time came for him to return to hospital. By now it was a known entity almost a routine.

His wife, Mary Mable Croot, found the routine of hospital visits a drain on her time and energy so for a mere double hernia operation she sent her sons to the hospital for visiting hours. She sent them off protesting that there was nothing to do and set about her evening chores.

The boys soon became bored at the hospital. Their father offered to show them his scars just to entertain them. There they were the cow gore scar and the gall bladder scar running horizontally across his abdomen and the two hernia scars running vertically across them. The boys were fascinated by the pattern. Anthony Junior looked at his brother Algernon and said, “Let’s make lemonade”.

When the ward sister came in to announce the end of visiting hours she looked alarmed. “What on earth are you playing at using swabs and Q-tips on your father’s stomach?”

Anthony and Algernon smiled up at her saying, “Tic Tac Toe, sister”.

“You are as bad as those two up in coronary,” she admonished the boys, “they’re playing chest chess!”

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