Man made thunder.
I sneezed, a few days ago, rather loudly, in front of my three sons. The wave of sound seemed to push them back a bit, particularly Tiarnan, four, as if it were uncomfortable to hear. I was catapulted inward and backward, then, at that observation, to my own childhood. I saw, then, that I had, in some way, become my father, or almost.
I shall explain. When I was a young boy, my father would sometimes sneeze in a way I had heard no other person ever sneeze, before or since. It was not the sneeze of a man, but more of the thunder of the sky. His sneeze was awesomely loud. It was as if someone had let off a fair sized explosive device, right next to my ear: AHHH-HOEEEE!, he would sneeze. It was the kind of sneeze that one would be unsurprised to find had knocked one off one's feet. I used to wonder at how he made so much noise. Yes, he was a big man, with a big chest...but still, that sneeze seemed impossibly loud. I sensed, when he sneezed, the great strength in him. I knew what such a loud noise meant: it meant POWER, of the physical kind. Only a very strong man, could make so much noise, with a simple sneeze.
I have lived forty two years, now. Yet, I have never come across anyone who ever sneezed as loudly as my father did, when I was a young boy. No-one else even comes close. Of course, that means but one thing: his upper body strength, lungs and ribcage, were much more powerfully built than any other person I have heard sneeze - he simply expelled the air, with more force, speed and power. So, what I was hearing, as a boy, was my father's relative strength, compared to the other people I encountered. Perhaps there are other people with louder sneezes still - but, if so, I have never heard them. I suppose, in a way, that leaves me impressed, in much the same way that I was as a young boy.
When I sneeze, now, I see, from the reactions of my children, that they think me loud. Perhaps I am the loudest sneezer they have ever got to hear, in their lives, so far. Yet, I know something they don't: that my sneeze is a whisper, set alongside the ones my father used to explode with. I am a strong man, relatively speaking...but nowhere near as strong as my father was, as a young man. Indeed, perhaps, he is still stronger than me. Even so, when I sneeze now, I feel connected to my father, all those years ago: I feel as if I have become, as he was: the thunderer to my children, the possessor of explosive lungs.
I haven't told them, though, that my father used to sneeze much more loudly than me. I haven't told them that I am a mere echo, in the sneeze department, that my father was. Some day, I shall. But for now, they shall labour under the misperception that their father is the loudest sneezer in the world. Perhaps they will get to hear my father sneeze, one day: then my secret will be out. I am just, as my father used to say: "A chip off the old block"...but he is the Old Block, entire!
If I listen, within, I can still hear my father's thunderous sneeze, still call it to mind. Though I have grown up, it still sounds like thunder...the loudest noise a man's lungs ever made. Isn't it funny the bits of childhood that one holds onto? I have held onto a sneeze, perhaps because it always startled me, to hear how loud it was, each and every time it happened, despite my knowing in advance, just how loud it would be.
For me those sneezes were more than just sneezes: they were the essence of my father, for one of his more notable characteristics, one which no-one could miss, was his physical strength. Each and every time he sneezed, he was announcing that strength to the world. He was saying, without words: "This is who I am!".
(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 6 and Tiarnan, 4, this month, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html
I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.
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