This weekend has seen me eat some humble pie in the face of total and utter silence.

There have been one or two messages of support and understanding but otherwise total and utter silence since Friday’s post. So this post is an apology.

I was disappointed on Friday after that phone call from Cancer Research UK and as I walked the 4 miles from the Wallace Monument to Stirling through Cambuskenneth and the Riverside in order to catch the bus home I became more and more frustrated with my apparent inability to create any sort of a momentum with the challenge to increase in my ability to raise sponsorship for the 5 charities. The more I mulled it over the more depressed I became and the more I just couldn’t see why this very simple story of one man’s desperate fight against a vicious disease and all it’s unintended consequences couldn’t seem to grasp the imagination of more people. This frustration became anger and that anger became the post you read on Friday night.

But this morning as I read my prayers I pulled out my prayer sheet that I carry each and every day to turn too to keep me grounded when things go wrong. But I forgot to look at it yesterday. Instead I let myself think myself into an angry depressed spoilt child stamping his foot because he wasn’t getting enough attention. So this morning I got quite an awakening and a red face when I read my prayer sheet.

‘Father remind me to discern your hand in all your works and to recognise your help and guidance in all my works and to serve you quietly, humbly and with a confident discipline in belief. Teach me to be happy when solely in your company and to enjoy your wondrous creation wherever that might be. Amen’

I pray this prayer nearly every day yet on Friday I wasn’t quiet. I was shouting from the rooftops. I wasn’t humble. I was stamping my foot because the charities don’t know who I am and because I wasn’t raising enough money. I had lost all discipline in my belief that God will see me healed. I was utterly miserable when solely in his company on the walk into Stirling and hardly noticed the beautiful countryside with the stunning backdrop that I walked through and past on the way into Stirling. I had forgotten about God and forgotten how to be disciplined and instead became too Mission focussed and in so doing had lost sight of the Mission. So I offer you all my most sincere apologies for my rather effective impression of a tempestuous child stamping his foot and while saying sorry I should of course actually be saying thank you to all of you who have so generously sponsored me so far. Without you I would have raised the square root of zero!

So as this weekend unfolded so I was taught a lesson and grounded and reminded of what’s important. Firstly as I volunteered at the Cricket Club on Saturday humping and dumping wood and rubbish and grass clippings as we cleared up in preparation for the first match next weekend I started to experience another partial seizure bubbling through. I couldn’t understand it. I had taken my drugs. I had been drinking water and nothing else and this was good physical work. Just the sort of thing to keep me stable but as I roped up the branches into the trailer for removal to the dump I started to notice the fizzing pins and needles in my left hand which slowly, but surely started to try and work it’s way up the arm. I kept my head down and quietly and methodically hooked on the rope, took a half turn then walked it back over the trailer, keeping it tight, working that left arm, using this job as a way of beating back the seizure. It was uncomfortable and even though I had thick gloves on the rope was painful against the fizziness of the left hand but I persevered and turn by turn by painful turn I finally finished the trailer and by God’s good grace the knotted loop right at the end of the rope, now crisscrossed over the trailer 6 times, looped perfectly over the final hook to secure the entire rope fast. The chances of that happening normally? On a foreign trailer with a foreign bit of tatty rope which most certainly hadn’t been designed specifically for this purpose? Almost a million to one! But it did so I stood and wanted to smile but realised that I couldn’t. The muscles in my cheeks had gone all flaccid again. I was looking for something to do. Something to take my mind off of things and then Ken saw me looking for work and needed assistance in building a ramp. He asked if I could help. I tried to answer but what came out of my mouth was just gobbledygook. People often say that my accent makes me sound as if I have a plum in my mouth. Well on Saturday I was speaking as if I had a plum in my mouth and with flaccid cheeks and a jaw bone that seemed to want to do its’s own thing I sounded as if I was just groaning. I stopped and flung my now flaccid left arm across my chest, trapping it against my chest with my right. I took a very deep breath and by articulating my words with a mouth that must have looked like a Walt Disney character trying to speak I managed to very slowly formulate words that made sense in an answer. The words were exaggerated, loud and grunting in their delivery as I spoke through my flappy lipped enormous mouth but they worked. Ken understood and sensed that I needed a job. He showed me, very slowly, very carefully, what needed doing to build the ramp for a wheelchair to gain access to our new pavilion. I tried to ask a question but couldn’t get the mouth to work so as my eyes welled up with fear and frustration Ken very patiently went through the whole process of measuring and screwing in with his power drill again. I nodded that I had understood so Ken left me to it understanding that I needed this job, needed to be trusted to do it and given the space to do so. So Ken went to cut some more boards for the ramp. I knew what was needed but now the eyesight had gone. I was looking through blurry eyes and with no depth perception. The seizure was bighting but I couldn’t let it take hold. I had to fight it back so with my over confident belief in myself and my challenge rattling through my head with those crazy phrases I had used yesterday to try and justify my anger at the lack of support I was receiving I suddenly found myself struggling to pick up a screw and then struggling to place it where it needed to go and holding it and then struggled to get the screwdriver anywhere near the screw head. I was hidden from view around the back of the pavilion with all the others merrily working away at the front so I knelt in desperate frustration and fear for where this seizure was going to take me as I struggled to swallow and kept dropping screws down the gaps in the ramp or having them tumble down the slope away from me. Each time I managed to get the screwdriver onto the screwhead and the screw aligned up with the wood and finally squeezed the trigger and with downwards pressure the screw would fall flat and sideways into the wood and the drill would bang into the wood. I was getting very close to just blubbing. Just letting it all out. Just dropping the bag of screws and the drill and collapsing onto this half built ramp to have a jolly good blub. I sensed someone behind me so sniffed it in and took a deep breath. It was Ken. ‘Let’s have a look at the drill. Something must be wrong with it. Oh yes. It’s the battery. Back in a minute,’ So off he went with the drill to leave me to try and recover. I did. Quite quickly in fact. As I drank some more water my eyesight improved and the seizure faded leaving only a nagging headache. But it had reminded me again how vulnerable I was. How my mission was one of healing. That was my main effort. The fund raising just an implied task in case someone felt that they might like to help me raise some money for the 5 charities as encouragement for me to keep going and beat the beast. If I failed to heal then I was letting myself down, I was letting my family and friends down, I was letting my children down. I had forgotten that most excellent piece of advice given by an old boss, Russell Coombe, before I even started the challenge but after I had just told him of my idea. ‘MMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmm. I like the idea. I like it a lot. Except for the launch at the Army Navy Rugby Match with dancing girls and fireworks. It’s not that I don’t like dancing girls or fireworks! It’s just that I don’t want you putting any undue pressure on yourself. Don’t have a launch. It’s not you. It’s not your story. Just go out for a walk one day. Start very quietly and set no targets. If you only raise a fiver – well that is one pound more for each of the five charities that they wouldn’t otherwise have had! I had forgotten this most excellent advice and therefore I had allowed the drive to improve the lives and life chances of others through the fund raising cloud what was most important. For if I didn’t stay healthy, if I didn’t manage to beat the beast, well, I was never going to raise very much money. It was then when I realised just how dog tired I was. I had fought hard through 18 months of what is probably the most punishing type of treatment a human body can sustain and while the frenetic pace of life I had set in the challenge undoubtedly pulled me through and kept me sane it certainly didn’t allow much time for the recharging of the batteries. Then on top of all that there was the unpleasant business of the separation to deal with as I was cast aside as a spent part with no role for the future while on top of all that I had to try and find somewhere else to live with no prospect of a mortgage with a prognosis and no income beyond a War Disablement Pension. In other words benefits. But God’s hand had undoubtedly been at work in the way he brought me the offer of the flat and the mortgage broker who determined to find me a mortgage so I needed just to relax and have a confident but quiet discipline in belief that his plan is a good plan and will deliver. I just have to be patient and allow myself to heal.

So needing encouragement I came home to find an email from a friend made at my cousin’s memorial service last week confirming that she was setting up a standing order for as much as she could afford. I then found another email from an old Regimental friend who has set up the wood and silver company and is hoping to produce some customised and personalised jewellery with the profits going to the challenge. Then I find a message from a lady I’ve met who is going through remarkably tough times at the moment, just thanking me for being honest and strong because ‘To see how strong you are with so much fight in you has made me think and be more positive about life and the future and how I hope that God and I might become friends once again.’

So I was all set for a good night’s sleep but woke in a panic this morning with a dream in which Heather was calling ‘Dad, Dad?’ It was about 02:30 in the morning. Heather was on her Duke of Edinburgh’s award weekend so I was up and checking my phone to see if anything had happened. It was such a powerful image I toyed with the idea of calling her and decided against it. She was with lots of people who would call if there was a drama. But go back to sleep I could not as I lay there trying to force all worries and concerns for Heather from my mind. She was fine. It was just a dream but I couldn’t shake it as I kept looking at my phone just to be sure. so I was up at 0600 hrs and litter picking after a shave and a bath at 0700hrs. Then church at 0930hrs and it was a pleasant service but not providing the kick up the backside I felt I needed. But it did provide further encouragement when a lady of the congregation came up asking if she could write a check for each of the 5 charities individually as her charitable trust will only allow her to donate to listed charities. Of course the answer is a resounding yes please. Give me the cheques. I then send them with a covering letter to the charity and a copy of the letter and cheque goes to the accountants. Brilliant.

I managed to get lots of admin done this afternoon and even more excitedly Heather and James came over for tea. Both got huge hugs from me and Heather reassured me that she was absolutely fine. She was exhausted (she looked exhausted) she did wake early crying ‘but it was just hormones Dad, nothing to worry about, I’m just tired’. So I cooked tea while Heather caught up on Britain’s Got Talent. Salmon fillets with Mango Salsa made from fresh garlic, spring onions, mango, lime juice, chopped ginger, chilli powder and mango chutney served with spinach, rocket and watercress salad. All plates vanished rapidly with positive comments from both the children. I cooked this today to boost Heather’s immune system after a tough weekend so full of B Vitamins, Beta Carotene, Omega 3, Potassium, Vitamins A and C and Zinc we all got a good boost.

Then in Evening Prayer I read:

‘Father with you is the well of life, and in your light I see light.
Your justice is like the great deep
You save both man and beast, O Lord,
How priceless is your love, O God
I take refuge under the shadow of your wing.’

Before praying:

‘Maker of the universe, source of all life,
Give me grace to serve you with my whole heart,
That I may faithfully perform your will and
Joyfully participate in you creation,
To the praise and glory of your name,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So I apologise profusely for voicing my frustration and I would also like to thank you all for the generous donations you are already making. The figures will continue to grow slowly I am sure. And while they do I will try and:

Climb every mountain,
Search high and low,
Follow every byway,
Every path I know.
Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
‘Till I find my dream.
A dream that will see
All the life I can get,
Every day of my life
To help others to live.
Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
Then I’ll find my dream

I don’t think this song needs any introduction!! I continue on the challenge but will take things at a slightly more sensible pace so that I can sustain this effort.

Yours aye