As we approach the 1st of December and all that advent brings, how good it is to see the community spirit of kindness, care and help as has been displayed over the last 24 hours in Glasgow following the tragic helicopter accident last night. The latest I have heard about is a taxi company offering to help those who can't afford to visit their loved ones in hospital.
Such a conflict of emotions: the heartbreak of loss and injury for so many on the one hand, and on the other, pride in the heartfelt courage and generosity of so many Glasgow folk.
How I would love to see a similar spirit, in the whole of this country, amongst those who have power, position, wealth and control. Come on those in government, banking, big business (including the energy suppliers). Come on those in the media - share the good news for a change! Come on all shareholders and profiteers. Come on all councils, organisations and employers. Come on all of you who don't have to worry about paying any of your bills this winter. Come on - put greed down, for it will ruin this world eventually - put greed and self-interest down - please!
How I long to see, all over this country, the spirit of Scrooge before the visits of the three ghosts, replaced with the spirit of Scrooge as he became on Christmas morning!
Monday, 17 June 2013
It’s been a rough few weeks with one thing or another. However, I’ve given myself a shake and have been concentrating on blessings rather than problems. Yesterday I appreciated all over again some small but lovely things:
The comfort of my favourite flip-flops – beginning to wear, but so comfy I’ll wear them until they fall apart
The deliciousness of the day’s first cup of coffee
A banana – ripe, but not too ripe – stops me feeling hungry and I know it’s healthy
The lovely scent of tomatoes as I open the greenhouse
The ‘chirruping’ of our two guinea-pigs when they hear me passing their hutch
Being able to watch on television, from start to finish, a great tennis match
Hearing my grandson chuckling at the antics of the players at a charity tennis match
Watching evening fall........................................................
Saturday, 8 June 2013
I spent yesterday afternoon in the company of four friends whom I haven’t seen for a while. We all worked together some years ago and have kept in touch. It was a glorious afternoon weather-wise, I was collected and driven home by our host, the food was fantastic, and our host and hostess’s home was full of chatting women, playing children and an exuberant boxer dog. The hospitality was wonderful!
As folk who know me are aware, life for me and my wee family is full of challenge at the moment, and I was so grateful to be able to share some of this with my friends. However, as each one of us shared our news, I realised that we all have current family-centred challenges, worries and difficulties.
Unfortunately, no-one is immune from the challenges of life, so it is sometimes good to be given a wee shake to enable us to see beyond our own situation. Without diminishing my family’s current difficulties, I have been reminded that we are not the only ones dealing with life’s ups and downs. I also feel a bit humbled, which is no bad thing.
I am also reminded of what a relief it is to be able to share openly with friends – and to have friends with whom one can do this. So here’s to friendship!
Thursday, 6 June 2013
It seems no time at all since August 1971 and the birth of my first daughter. Over the intervening forty-two years there have been many, many changes. Sadly, it seems that at least one thing has not changed for the better.
My daughter seemed healthy at first, but by three weeks old she was crying a lot. Visits to the clinic did not help but eventually, when she was six weeks old, I managed to get an appointment with a paediatrician. I had hardly stepped into the consulting room when the doctor was phoning for an ambulance and my baby and I were being rushed up the road from Perth to Dundee Royal Infirmary. On arrival I was informed that Sarah has hydrocephalus and would very soon be prepared for neurosurgery. That was to be the first of many rushed journeys between Perth and Dundee, and the first of the fifteen neurosurgical procedures that Sarah would endure over the next three years.
I have forgotten a lot of the detail of the day-by-day challenges of dealing with Sarah’s various needs and her uncertain future. Some things, on the other hand, I remember clearly. Like the day Sarah was having a four-hour surgery and the phone went two hours into the operation. My heart sank. However, it was to let me know the operation had had to be delayed and was only now beginning. I also remember the day we collected Sarah from hospital after a long stay and, by way of celebration, we popped into a cafe on the way home. Because of the neurosurgery Sarah’s head had been shaved and her hair was not yet growing back, and her many scars were showing, the latest one very visible. I shall never forget the pointed looks and mutters of the other folk in the cafe.
Sadly, that sort of reaction was more commonplace than I had expected. I also found out at top speed that a lot of people did not want to mix with me or my daughter; perhaps other mothers thought that hydrocephalus was ‘catching’. Anyway, I was isolated and, as it was impossible to get a babysitter who felt able to look after Sarah, my social life and, therefore, contact with other people was almost non-existent. As Sarah was vulnerable and unable to stand the rough and tumble, or the occasional taunts, of children at a regular school, she had to attend special schools which were often at some distance from our home – so there was no opportunity for regular school-gate conversations with other parents. Sarah also had regular medical appointments at various hospitals in London, where we now lived - sometimes as many as one appointment per week - and these, added to her regular periods of illness, and further ‘review’ surgery from time to time, meant that we were never in a regular routine.
I am so grateful to the wonderful medical staff who were able to save Sarah. I am so grateful that there were some caring professional people who found the occasional medically-qualified babysitter for me, and so saved my sanity! I am so grateful to the minister of my local church who gave me huge support, both practically and spiritually. I had a few fantastic friends who, even the two or three who lived at some distance, kept in touch with me regularly. I am grateful to God that He has always watched over Sarah.
However, all that being said, it seems that a degree of isolation appears to remain a feature of life for those parents who have a child with some form of disability. I think you may say that society is different now. That we are more enlightened. That the Paralympics last year did much to emphasise the fact that differences can be embraced and celebrated. All this is true. However, sadly, I recognise in my daughter – the mother of a little boy with Aspergers Syndrome – a similar degree of isolation to that which I experienced almost half a century ago. Despite having some support from a small number of good friends, her life is very different and very solitary compared to the vast majority of her contemporaries.
Unfortunately, not everything has changed.
Wednesday, 13 June 2012
Wednesday, 30 May 2012
There are three fantastic things about going through a difficult time!
1. It alters your relationship with God
2. You discover who’s really in it with you
3. It ends!
Unfortunately, these things are only fully appreciated once you have come out at the other end! And the end is truly something to savour. It’s wonderful to feel your shoulders drop by three inches, to be aware that you do not have that constant twinge of a headache, and to feel your fingers unwind and relax. Whilst you were in the midst of the difficulties you had not even realised how tense your body was. Afterwards, you can sometimes be taken by surprise, by remembering it is actually all over! You had got so used to the tension and the headachy cloud that, for a split second, you had forgotten its over - and then you remember - and you can rejoice all over again! Of course, this spell is fairly short-lived!
It has sometimes been quite a surprise to me to discover who is actually with me during difficult times. We make assumptions as to whom we can count on, and from time to time we are disappointed when the folk we thought would be alongside us appear to take a back seat. I have come to the conclusion that some people, for whatever reason of their own, are simply not able to support others through difficult times. It’s not a lack of friendship, just an inability to know what to do and how to do it. Sometimes folk are dealing with their own problems and are unable to take on anything additional. There is also the fact that some people simply cannot recognise how badly we are affected and are, therefore, blind to the fact that we need their support.
On the other hand, I have been equally surprised by the love and support received from people that I had not expected it from - the ‘out of the blue’ telephone call, visit or card! These small acts of kindness are the uplift which carries you through a bad day. A caring word has value beyond explanation. I maintain that I came through a very bad time in 2008/2009 holding on to the hand of my two year old grandson! Of course, my two daughters and one particular friend were a strong support, as were my sisters, one or two other friends and some of my Church family. Ultimately, there are two things that bring us through a bad time – God and the support of other people.
As for changing our relationship with God? This is much more difficult to explain. During a bad time it can feel as if God has become distant and out of contact. Your prayers hit the ceiling and bounce around you – and how can they be answered if they never reach God? You keep coming across bad news and stories of others that seem hopeless. You even begin to question why God would allow this to happen to you. You begin to feel that you are not worthy of God’s help – and if the situation goes on and on, this would seem to confirm it. However, somehow, we remember that our faith is not measured by how we feel, but by knowing that God keeps His promises. So we hold on.
And by holding on, we are enabled to be ‘down but not out’. Then, from time to time, God sends us a word, or an answer to prayer – and this sustains our fragile grip. Slowly we begin to remember that God will never allow us to go through more than we can cope with. We are reminded that many others are going though much, much worse. And, eventually, the difficulties ease and we feel like ourselves again. One thing has altered though. Our relationship with God has been developed and this has helped us to grow. We put on more growth during difficult times than we do during times of ease. I guess it’s because we have no strength and have to rely on His. Because we know that we can trust Him to bring us through any future difficulties. Because it shows us that everything else in our lives may change, disappear, disappoint or hurt us – but God never changes. He promised to be with us always – and He’s just proved it!
None of us would choose difficult times, but they happen, and when they happen they bring us a deeper relationship with God, the knowledge that people around us care and a terrific sense of relief and joy when they are over!
Sunday, 5 February 2012
When I was a child…..
Time moved very slowly
Summers were sunny
Sleep came easily
And there were no pains in my body.
My heart was undamaged
I trusted the world
Each new thing discovered
Each experience learned.
My mind was free
My spirit could fly
My dance was hope
And my song was joy.
As years passed by
The world pushed in
Trying to steal my joy
And imprison me.
Pain and sadness
Tried to drown me
Rose up to engulf me.
Though the world has tempted
Bullied and scared me
Though I walk with a limp
And need glasses to see
Though time flies by
And I don’t always cope
My song is still joy
And my dance still hope.
SAC (January 2008)