He was 14 new to the area, no siblings and only his mother and him. They had been living up north; he didn’t know why they moved and it didn’t matter. Everything was okay until his mum got sick. She went to the Doctor and came back with lots of medicine. When he asked what the Doctor said she brushed him off with “nothing for you to worry about son”.
A month went by and his mother was getting worse. They both went back to the Doctor, he said she needed to do some tests and he gave her a piece of paper and told her she had to go to the hospital for some x-rays and some other things that he didn’t know what they meant. The doctor would contact her when he had the results. The Doctor phoned a few days later, he needed to see her. He told her she had cancer.
He went to school at his mother’s urging. His mother was alone, he worried she might need something and he wouldn’t be there to get it. She reassured him she would be fine and would text him if she needed him.
He was in the composite class at school for disabled kids, the class that most kids called the “cabbage” class because of his dyslexia. He wasn’t interested in any of his lessons and he looked forward to when he was able to go home.
She was 13 and she noticed he always looked sad and worried, they were in the same class for the same reason. One day in class he was asked a question by the teacher . He had no idea what the answer was but she whispered it to him. He was grateful he was spared the embarrassment of not knowing.
Later when a group of girls came over to tease her about being a “cabbage” he came to her aid and shooed them away. Grateful for his intervention they started to talk. He told her where he came from and about his sick mother with cancer who was dying. She told him about her grandmother who was dying. It was a relief to be able to talk to someone who understood.
The next few weeks he kept missing school and when he did come he looked tired and sad. He told her he was doing the cooking and shopping and taking care of his mother.
The next day while they were sitting in class he got up suddenly and packed his bag. The teacher told him to sit down and he told the teacher he had to go home and ran out the door. As he moved past his friend he told her that his mother had sent him a text to come home straight away. He lived 1.5 km from the school and he started to run home.
The teacher went after him, calling to him to return to class. She followed the teacher outside and told him her friend’s mum had cancer and had texted him to come home. The teacher called the Principal and relayed what happened and then jumped in his car to try and catch the boy and give him a lift home.
She didn’t know whether the teacher picked him up or not. All she knew was he didn’t come to school the next day and when she enquired by text was he okay. He replied, ”my mum died last night.” She asked for his address and arranged to go see him to pay her respects.
He had contacted an Aunt from up North when his mum died and she came down to collect them both. He had been crying when she saw him. She went up to him and gave him a hug and beautiful flowers from her grandmother’s garden. He was glad to see his friend even if it was for the last time as he would be living up North now.
If only the kids at school knew what he did for his mother and what she did for her grandmother. They wouldn’t call them cabbages they would call them awesome heroes.