I spent some time last night, looking at photos of my brother on FB, at his photos of the family he and his wife have created.
Looking at his photos, seeing how much has changed over the years between them and the young family they’ve created together.
Last night, or more correctly last morning at 02:00 HRS.
Text messages, both him and his wife. Its been a bit busy here up north, even more so down that way down south it seems. I dragged myself out of bed Friday morning (just gone) on the advice from my partner, that I’d better call my brother’s wife.
We expect these calls but never plan for what comes with them.
I had messages on my phone saying my younger brother had been injured badly in a work accident.
A load roller change out on a tracked mining machine. Standard procedure, nothing unusual. Just another routine job and done.
Nothing unusual. Except the back channel grumble about management and safety on site.
The bolts on this roller are a little buggered you see but we’ve got the right tools for the job. Just set it up, get it done.
Make sure you sign your JSA and do a Take 5 first, wear your gloves, the usual shit, its all been done before. Everything’s being done by the books.
And then it happens, that illusory factor that exhibits itself at the worst opportunity and it wreaks its havoc upon whomever happens to be in its path.
That night-shift, it was one of my own. My brother. Not some unknown name, another statistic .
A 1000 plus kilograms of steel and some more. A broken leg and damaged hand. The shock, the first aid response, those workers who volunteered their skills in recovering the injured, doing the best they can in that situation.
Many years ago, at the mine we both started our apprenticeships, there was a fatal accident.
My brother tells me that the thought of that incident and how it would affect his family was the first thing that crossed his mind in that instant.
It all happens so fast, just like we’re told in every induction we’ve been through since we started in this game all those years ago. There’s no way you dodge the physics of this kind of thing when you’re in the line of fire.
Looking at his photos on FB last night it something became apparent to me, he ain’t my younger brother anymore. He hasn’t been for a long while now.
He’s a husband, a father.
Together, with his wife, they’ve faced their challenges and it’s changed them. It’s changed him in the way life changes the look on a man’s face. That realisation that things aren’t the way they were spelt out to you initially or how you perceive them when you’re younger, that you’ll be thrown into situations that you won’t have the answers for immediately or even after some time.
I see this in his photos. I can’t explain it right at this point but he seems somewhat unrecognisable in the realisation of his personal realities. He’s no longer the familiar brother, the younger, just another family member you occasionally call up to see how things are. He’s a husband and a father.
I don’t have all those commitments myself and maybe that’s the dissonance I’m feeling now. I have a mortgage but he has people depending on what he does, his ability to provide and protect. This is one of those moments where the realities of life come rolling in and make their presence known.
There’s an aspect to individual life, an aspect that your closest relatives and friends might not see because they’re always interacting with you.
The photos. The familiarity of a common past. The distance created when you move away and start your own lives. Those factors create a disconnection and reliance on the memories of the past or selected instances. I call it the social media effect.
Sudden changes will focus you onto these aspects, even in a photo. It wakes you up to who you’re looking at and the realities we face and the changes that happen to us as we move through life.
I found it revealing. I’ve never experienced this apart from witnessing the passing of my parents many years ago. But that was different, we expected that, they were sick and that’s how life plays out. You see it coming, even subconsciously, you’re waiting like a nail for that hammer.
What happened to my brother is different. We prepare ourselves and our work environments to prevent this kind of thing happening. We have safe systems of work, tier one companies, OHS reps, Unions, JSA’s etc. right?
Ask yourself, look around your workplace. Think about it. How many compromises do we get away with daily?
This time next year he should be walking again after the surgeries and rehabilitation. And so should his youngest son (for his first time). Between here and then there’ll be a lot of changes to his family’s lifestyle.
I have a saying as a tradie, you’re only one accident away from a career change, wheelchair or a bodybag. I’ve seen it a few times and heard of it plenty more. We all have either personally or in the news.
It’s only a few nights ago the Reaper took a swing at my brother and only wounded him.
And I’ll say we’re all so lucky the fucker’s aim was off.
I wrote this reflection around the time post incident a couple of months ago and things have straightened out some more now and the details relating to this incident have slowly become a little more apparent. I won’t go into the details but suffice to say, I’ve extensive experience working in the same sector of our economy and I’m more than aware of what’s going on with this situation. Too add to my initial analysis, my brother’s condition and outlook has markedly improved and he’s now a lot more mobile than it initially looked like it would be at the time. And the youngest boy is just starting to get independently mobile as well. It’ll be a year or three before this is all worked out. It’ll be a bunch of life lessons we’ll all reference for years to come.