Just because the sun is setting in the western sky, it does not mean the journey is over. For dusk may leave it’s mark on us, but all is forgotten at dawn.
The moon will hang in the sky as a faithful reminder that this is not the end, and night will not rule forever. The mighty stars above will hold their breath until the sun rises again.
Darkness will give way to a joy. Your voyage will continue. This voyage of a lifetime does not end when the sun sets. You will wake sweet voyager. Have no fear, you will wake and there will be great rejoicing.
I am starting to really look forward to a day off. When you are tired, you start to find mornings hard. Some of it might be physical tiredness, but it is more the emotional tiredness I am aware of. Just starting to feel I am ready to shut myself away from the whole world for a while.
But in the meantime I am sipping my coffee in hopes the caffeine will have kicked in before it’s time to shower.
Then I will go and collect the dark sourdough loaf reserved for me by the bakery. I was so pleased to find I had two slices of bread left when I woke up this morning. I didn’t feel like eating granola again. I am losing my appetite at the moment.
We all start to be affected in different ways when we are in touch with illness and death. It does tend to get at you in little ways even it is something you are used to because of your profession. For me, it’s slightly chipping away at my emotional energy, my enthusiasm and my appetite. But I am aware of it. I know it will be good for me to spend my day off doing some things that will invigorate my heart and desire to enjoy life.
I was even more pleased this morning to find I still had half a jar of St Dalfour Apple and Cinnamon preserve. I spread some of it on my toasted sourdough. It is absolutely beautiful. It was a perfect start to the day.
I had four grandparents – that’s pretty much the average number for grandparents I believe. One of my grandparents died before I was ever born though. My Dad’s Dad. I have never met him. Naturally, I have always wondered what he was like. I would like to meet him one day.
I remember visiting my Dad’s Mum when we were little. There were things in that house I never saw anywhere else. My Nanna loved Bingo. In fact most of her presents to us, she won at Bingo sessions. My Uncle and Nanna both loved “the Pools”, betting on a horse, “Spot-the-Ball”. That’s what they seemed to talk about. We would tell them about our swimming and what we enjoyed at school. My parents often asked us to take some of our schoolwork to show Nanna. We told Nanna about our friends and the games we liked to play. Nanna and my uncle would play card games with us.
My parents wanted us to dress smartly to visit Nanna. We always wore pretty dresses. My parents expected us to behave impeccably when we visited Nanna (and also Grandad and Granny – my mum’s parents). Mum trained us that when Nanna offered us a biscuit, we could take one. If she pushed us, then we were allowed take a second biscuit. But we were never to take a third! I have remembered that my whole life!!! Everywhere I go…I never take a third when offered. Just one, or two if I am pushed.
I remember Nanna sitting in her armchair in the back parlour smoking one cigarette after another while we were there. The air in the room was smoky blue grey. I found myself holding my breath and making excuses to go out into the garden to breathe some fresh air.
Nanna was small and thin. I remember her rattly cough and the way she wheezed when she breathed. I was still a little girl when she was hospitalized with lung cancer. I don’t think I realized at the time that she had lung cancer. It was later that my parents told me what had caused her decline in health.
I remember us all going to visit her. We took flowers and grapes and some crossword puzzles and books for her. She looked so tiny sitting there in bed.
I was fascinated by the hospital. Nanna produced a box of sweets. They were York Fruits, I have never wanted to try one since! I did not like them at all!
I remember Nanna’s funeral. I remember my uncles and aunts and cousins and all of my siblings being there. I remember it being quite eventful.
I think it’s kind of sad that the main things I remember about Nanna was her smoking, her yellow fingertips, her love of Bingo and having a flutter with some sort of gambling. It’s hard not to compare Nanna with Granny. Granny was very active. She baked, she had an allotment where she grew vegetables that she cooked with, she worked with local organizations. And then there was my Grandad. He was very active, especially mentally. A life-long student. It was only after he died that we discovered that he was a very popular vlogger (yes a vlogger!), with a huge following.
My Dadda…when he was a young man, he got involved in gambling and he ended up in a huge amount of debt. But my Dadda changed. He fought to change his habits. By the time I was born my Dadda had made many changes. There was never a cigarette in our family home. He never gambled, not in any form at all. He had to work hard to pay off his debt at the same time caring for so many children. But he was determined to look after us, and train us to love working hard and lead a healthy active life.
I would have loved to have seen my Nanna healthy and well. My mum (who was a nurse) happened to be with my Nanna that last night. She held her hand and spoke softly to her those last few hours. I always remembered how lovely my mum was, when I later worked in palliative care with terminally ill patients. The memories of seeing what my Nanna went through have stayed with me for life.
It makes me so sad that people smoke cigarettes and use other forms of tobacco. How much suffering they have brought to individuals and their families. How much stress and anguish gambling has brought to individuals and families!
I am glad that my parents were very mindful of the example they were setting for us. Their hard-working, healthy, wholesome examples and their lovely personalities and qualities have made a huge impression on all of us. They taught us to love life, to dress well, to show kindness. They taught us to be affectionate with all our family and to love them. They helped us develop a sense of dignity and pride in being clean and tidy and telling people about the wonderful things we were learning. They taught us how to enjoy life with gusto!
I remember telling my Nanna that I had been reading the Bible. (I read it for the first time when I was five years of age – from start to finish.) I told her that our Creator is going to make this earth a paradise and that we will all live forever in peace with no wars, crimes or disease. I also told her there will be no cigarettes in the paradise.
I would love to think that when she wakes up, there will be lots of wonderful things to share with her, so much so that she will never think about Bingo or betting on sports ever again! Maybe instead we will play sports together. It would be amazing to see her running round a park, her lungs healthy and strong.
I would love to see all my grandparents again, full or life, full of energy – no wrinkles, no aches and pains. Until then they are safe in my Creator’s memory. And they live on in our minds and hearts.
On the road we call life, we pass many people. Some only briefly share the road with us. But all will leave their mark on us in some way.
I think most would agree that leaving primary school and starting high school at the age of eleven is frankly terrifying! When other students are friendly and help to put you at your ease you are so grateful.
One of the most super-friendly students in our high school was Carl Sanderson. He was a handsome young man. But what everyone would remember him for, was his smile. When I was eleven, and beginning high school as a Year Seven student, Carl was fourteen starting Year Ten of high school. He was friendly with everyone, not just me. Yet it made such a difference to know there was a friendly face and a cheerful smile, belonging to a fellow student who was going to look out for me.
On my first morning of high school, while I stood nervously at the bus-stop waiting for the bus to arrive, he was one of the few that said hello. At the end of the day he saw me again and asked me how was my first day of school. How many of the older students care to ask a younger kid how they got on during their first day of school?
I quickly realized that Carl was one of those boys who was everyone’s friend. Everyone adored him. He was soooo cute (too old for me to worry about how cute he was). The teachers clearly were very fond of Carl too.
I don’t have many memories of Carl in all honesty. Just that he was super friendly and always had a smile and a greeting for you. I wish I had more to tell you about him. It kind of makes me angry that I know so little about this lovely young man. After I had been at school for a few weeks something happened that shocked me and the whole school.
Carl Sanderson was killed when a motor cycle hit him. The driver was speeding of course. I was told he was travelling at around 80 miles per hour when he hit Carl. Apparently Carl died at the scene. He had been crossing that road on the way to collect a younger sibling from school.
Carl made an impression on me in the short time that I knew him. I realized how much it means when you are nervous or alone, to be greeted by a warm friendly smile. I realized how much it means when another human takes the time to show interest in you. During the brief acquaintance I enjoyed with him, it struck me how warming and encouraging another person can be just by their friendliness. I decided I wanted to be like Carl.
When I look back at the brief time Carl and I were at the same point along the road of life together, I still draw inspiration from that lovely boy and remember how it feels when a warm and friendly face shows a little personal interest in you.
I would love to meet Carl again one day and to be able to tell him that despite our brief acquaintance, I had never forgotten him and had actually tried to be more like him.
I had a bit of a sniffle a couple of weeks ago, and because I was blowing my nose a hundred times a day, I started to remember someone who was part of my very early years. Aunt Bessy. My memory of her is a very warm and gregarious character, in a rather rotund package. Poor Aunt Bessy, was sitting in a dining chair with arms once, and when she stood up, the chair rose with her, as the arms were digging into her generous girth. She squealed with laughter, which made it alright for us little ones to giggle.
She was very much loved by all the children who knew her. She had about twenty grandchildren of her own whom we often played with. They were so fond of Aunt Bessy. We were a little jealous, and wished she was our grandmother also.
There were no limits on the love and kindness Aunt Bessy had to share with others. She adored my mum was very supportive of her. Aunt Bessy was generous to us, she always had something to give us, cakes, sweets, toys. However, there was a strict side to her aswell. She had a real problem with me…me and my nose. As a little one, I had not grasped how to blow my nose properly!
She scolded me on many occasions about wiping my nose on my sleeve, or not wiping it at all, but letting my nose run instead!
She introduced me to a handkerchief and taught me to practice blowing my nose. And practice I did! Every time I saw Aunt Bessy, I would run over to her and ask her to watch me while I blew my nose. She would laugh and tell me I was not doing it properly. She would talk me over the proper technique again! I kept on and on trying.
Lots of our little friends (probably related to Aunt Bessy) told us they had been to her home to visit. They told us how tasty the dishes that she had cooked were. They excitedly described her special fishies.
I wanted to go to visit Aunt Bessy’s home and taste her cooking and see her fishies. I asked Mum to ask Aunt Bessy for an invitation. When Mum let her know how keen I was to visit, Aunt Bessy sternly told me that I would not be allowed to visit until I had learnt to blow my nose properly!
With renewed determination I practiced in real earnest, until one day, I sensed that there was something different. I seemed to have all of a sudden acquired the proper technique because there were visible results (deleted the graphic description for your dear sakes).
I was so excited when I could finally perform a successful “nose-blow” in front of Aunt Bessy. She was delighted with me and I received one of her wonderful warm hugs. My next question was:
“Does this mean I can come and visit you now?”
A lunch-time visit was arranged. I thought Aunt Bessy was so considerate even to ask Mum what we would like to eat. Mum never asked us! I can’t remember whether it was fish fingers or chicken nuggets in breadcrumbs, but I do remember it came with chips and baked beans. I was so thrilled. She showed us her fishies. I was in awe of them. They seemed magnificent. Coy carp I believe, they were the biggest fish I had ever seen and seemed so beautiful.
She gave me a little gift. It was a box of three handkerchiefs with my initials embroidered into the corner of each. The kind of gift I wish I had kept. But that was thirty years ago.
One icy winter, Aunt Bessy was in the front seat of the car her husband was driving. Uncle Justin was also a lovely man. I will tell you about him one day. Mum and Dad told us afterwards that it all happened very quickly. The juggernaut of a lorry on the opposite carriageway had lost control and was skidding as they came around the bend of the road. My parents told us that Uncle Justin and Aunt Bessy would have hardly suffered, they would have died instantly.
I am sure I had known of others to die, but it was the first time my parents had dressed us all up smartly to take us to the funeral. As we were all ready to leave our family home, I gave out emotionally. I ran upstairs and hid in the huge mahogany wardrobe in our bedroom. Dad came to find me.
I was distraught. I could not control my violent sobs and streaming tears. The reality of what had happened had hit me and I could not leave the house. My parents did not want to force me to attend the funeral. I stayed with one of our neighbours, who had daughters a similar age to myself, while the rest of my family attended the funeral for Uncle Justin and Aunt Bessy.
I was only around five or six. I know I had started school because Aunt Bessy had bought sweeties for my first school trip. That was the first year I read the Bible for myself. I needed to. I had questions from that moment on. I needed to find the answers to my questions. I have read it over and over many times since, but that was the first year I read it rapaciously. All my other story books seemed pretty boring after reading the epic accounts and dramatic dialogue of an array of characters.
The first time I read that the Creator can restore life to someone who has died…I felt huge relief. Even now, the nine accounts of those who had died being restored to life, are amongst my favourite passages. From that moment, I started to think about what I will say when Uncle Justin and Aunt Bessy wake up again.
I still find, every time I have a sniffle or a cold, and find myself blowing my nose a hundred times a day, my mind floods with memories of dear Aunt Bessy.