Rumbalara House, one of Alino Living’s residential aged care homes on the Central Coast, recently introduced “This Is Your Life” presentations to its roster of activities. These presentations offer residents an opportunity to share their life story and build more connections within the community.
The first of these presentations took place on Sunday, 23 July, for resident George Krams. George has led an incredible life, overcoming many challenges to achieve great things. He was born with cerebral palsy, deafness and blindness, but he never let his disabilities define him.
George Krams was born on 4 May 1944 at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Paddington. His mother, who had been told that her baby had died in the womb when she was seven-months pregnant, was determined to give him a chance at life. She refused to give up on him, and he defied the odds to survive.
Soon after he was born, George's parents, who were religious people, saved up enough money to take him to Lourdes, a religious site in France, hoping for a miracle cure for his blindness. However, no miracle happened there. George's mother never gave up, and she and other family members brought back filled containers of the sacred Lourdes water for George to drink.
Six months later, the doctors declared that George could see. The doctors asked George's mother what she had done, but she never revealed to them the miraculous cure she believed came from Lourdes. The doctors could not offer any medical explanation for George's sight returning.
George started his schooling and education at an incredibly early age. At the age of three, he attended the Spastic Centre at Mosman, where he was the first deaf child to enrol. After a few years he got to transfer to St Gabriel’s School for the Deaf at Castle Hill.
The Spastic Centre did not want George to leave, as he was a "poster child" for the school. However, George's mother was determined to do what was best for her son, and she fought for two years to get him transferred. In the end, she was successful, and George thrived at his new school.
When George was in his 20s, he decided to follow his childhood dream of becoming a priest. His parents had long talked about this with him, and they were supportive of his decision. However, George was refused entry into the priesthood on several occasions, most likely due to the difficulty in meeting the physical requirements of the priesthood.
George did not give up on his dream of serving God. He continued to work in the Catholic Church in other capacities, such as volunteering with the Catholic Deaf Association as Treasurer for 12 years and Vice President for two years.
George worked as a factory hand for a while after finishing school, but felt he could do more. He gained employment as a public servant in the police department, a job that he loved. He worked there for 23 years, and on his retirement, he received a presentation from then NSW Police Commissioner Riley.
George’s Guinness World Record
In 1982, George set a Guinness World Record for maintaining sign language at or above 45 words per minute for 35 hours and 5 minutes. A huge achievement, this record has never been broken.
A Lifelong Friendship
Reg South and George Krams were lifelong friends who met in the mid- to late-1940s when they were both very young. They lived on the same street in Randwick and quickly became friends.
Reg recalls the first time he saw George: “He was sitting in his front garden, on the grass, with callipers on his legs. I didn't know what callipers were, so I said hello to him, and his aunty Annie explained them to me in the best way she could, in a way that a child could understand.”
This chance meeting was the start of a lifelong friendship.
“George and I became mates very quickly. My sisters and I would see a lot of George, and George soon got to know the other kids in Norton Street.
“We kids had little or no problem communicating with George, as we all spoke ‘kid language’ and that was all we needed,” explained Reg.
Decades later, in 1973, Reg and his wife asked George to be the godfather of their second daughter, Deanne. As Reg recalls, "We knew George was a good Christian, with a strong religious upbringing. We were so pleased when George readily accepted and said he would be happy to be Deanne's godfather."
Deanne, along with her two sisters, Cassandra and Trisha, all learned sign language at TAFE so they could better communicate with George. George remained close to the family, and Deanne asked George to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day on 3 February 1994.
As a tribute to their decades-long friendship, Reg shared with George: “I have always been enormously proud to have you as my friend. I am glad that we are still in touch after 74 years of friendship, you have had many challenges over the years, and you have shown strength in overcoming a lot of these issues. You have shown us all you have the stuff that great men are made of. You are a leader in your own right. You are special to all who know you!”
Brad McAndrew – Brilliant Logic
02 4324 6962