Always the best …

Always the best …

The news reports on those who died in Argentina, have centred mainly on three French sports stars. The others who died, are being spoken of only after these three are marvelled at.

This tendency to separate specific victims from other victims is something that annoys me. On the BBC 0ne O’clock news today (Tuesday) , a Frenchman being interviewed made a clear distinction between these three and the ‘normal people’. Ten people died and they are all normal now: in death.

Have you ever noticed that in almost every tragedy, such as this crash, or a school shooting in America, or indeed some other dreadful occurrence where lives have been lost, the media and various leaders or officials, such as, today, the French President, always describe those who have died as being the best.

Everytime something of this nature occurs, you could guarantee the dead will be described as ‘inspirational’ ‘exceptional human beings. They were the ‘finest examples around’ and so on. The picture presented is invariably painted with the finest oils. These dead will have done no wrong, will have led blameless lives, ‘will be sorely missed’ among their colleagues and communities. On and on it goes until, in my opinion, only the gifted and most wonderful people appear to die in tragic circumstances.

The rest of us, who live out our lives away from public achievement, are not really worthy of concern. We who raise children, who care for sick parents or they for us; we who work quietly, who work and study part time in pursuit of a Degree; we, who despite various illnesses, continue to go on daily and do things for family, for neighbour, for strangers, for ourselves; we who have known the harshness of hardship, of loneliness; we who know about the daily battle to breathe, we are seemingly not worthy of such adulation. No, we are ordinary and normal, we are there to praise, but we must understand without argument, that we are never there to be personally recognised.

Personally, this dividing of the dead sickens me. I detest it. Yes, we do have wonderful people around us, yes, we do have people worthy of recognition. However, I believe the greatest form of praise for the dead is to speak kindly of all: not select some at the expense of all. Death is no respector of persons. The rich and the poor, the able and the unable; the gifted and the struggler, they all lie in the same field in boxes. Selectivity is just so wrong. Declaring that these dead are wonderful is fine up to a point, but never forget the quiet people, many of whose lives are marvellous examples too if that was but known …


A lovely moral story of old…

Many years ago in a small Indian village, a farmer had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a village moneylender. The moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the farmer’s beautiful daughter. So he proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the farmer’s debt if he could marry his daughter.

Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. So the cunning money-lender suggested that they let providence decide the matter. He told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty money bag. Then the girl would have to pick one pebble from the bag.

If she picked the black pebble, she would become his wife and her father’s debt would be forgiven. If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father’s debt would still be forgiven. If she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.

They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the farmer’s field. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick a pebble from the bag.

Now, imagine that you were standing in the field. What would you have done if you were the girl? If you had to advise her, what would you have told her?

Take a moment to ponder this. What would you recommend that the girl do?

The girl put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.

“Oh, how clumsy of me!” she said. “But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”

The moneylender dared not admit his dishonesty. The girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one.

Lived long and prospered …

Lived long and prospered …

They were old, no, they were rather elderly. Somewhere in mid-eighties I should think. They got on my bus yesterday morning, in Belfast. They assisted each other to the seats, and sat down carefully. He was cleanly shaven, trousers well pressed, his expensive navy overcoat was fully buttoned up. And the black, laced shoes shone like mirrors. His shoulders were bowed a little with age, and he leaned heavily on the tightly rolled umbrella when walking. She too had silver hair, over which she wore a small, plain navy hat. Her equally expensive black coat had silver type buttons. Her light grey trousers, as with his, were well pressed, and also as with him, her flat-heeled, navy shoes shone like lights. She kept her two bags close by.

I discreetly watched them both. Their attentiveness to each other was marvellous; it was of an era long since thrown aside by the rushing, button pressing society of today. Their dress sense, and deportment indicated lives lived long and prosperously. They spoke seemingly quietly to each, and I had the thought that perhaps, at home, they would finish each others sentences. They were a lady and a gentleman. I should so have loved to know their story.

Some hours later, the news broke that Leonard Nimoy, he who will ever be remembered as the fictional ‘Mr Spock’, had died. He was 83, and in the logical mind of the character for whom he shall ever be remembered, it was perfectly logical that he should pass on at this good age. I thought again of those two lovely souls who had been on the bus. Thousands of miles, and wholly different lifestyles separated them from Leonard. Yet, age reduced those differences. Courtesy, grooming, old world charm reduced the differences much, much further.

This cruel world needs such people, but daily we lose them. We should weep when we lose them for their likeness shall not trespass upon this earth again. Leonard Nimoy has ‘gone to his place’. I trust wherever he now finds himself, it is logical to him. It would be so wrong if this is not so ….

Michael …

Enough about Cancer …

The beauty of a Blog is that you can post controversial things… 😉

Should cancer should receive less prominence than is current? For a long time, cancer was not spoken about very much in public, but today it’s mentioned everywhere, and I would never deny that is as it ought to be. However, the begging appeals for funding are now endless, and seemingly ceaseless. In a Tesco this morning, there they were with the buckets and leaflets.

The poster read: ‘Today’s appeal is for Cancer’

Yes, and you appealed last week too, and three times last month also! Despite the absolute £millions of funding, cancer continues to kill with impunity. I know; I have carried the coffins too. Should now be the time to ensure other medical diseases and problems, receive much more publicity and higher funding?

Dementia is seriously short of research funding despite a new government initiative. Children’s Heart Services don’t attract funding such as what cancer does. Mental Health is begging for funding. Likely most readers could name something which is close to their heart, but doesn’t have the publicity or funding which cancer attracts.

For what illness or disease would you like to see funding increase?

‘Sea Wife’ A poem …

The Sea-Wife ,by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

There dwells a wife by the Northern Gate,
And a wealthy wife is she;
She breeds a breed o’ rovin’ men
And casts them over sea.

And some are drowned in deep water,
And some in sight o’ shore,
And word goes back to the weary wife
And ever she sends more.

For since that wife had gate or gear,
Or hearth or garth or bield,
She willed her sons to the white harvest,
And that is a bitter yield.

She wills her sons to the wet ploughing,
To ride the horse of tree,
And syne her sons come back again
Far-spent from out the sea.

The good wife’s sons come home again
With little into their hands,
But the lore of men that ha’ dealt with men
In the new and naked lands;

But the faith of men that ha’ brothered men
By more than easy breath,
And the eyes o’ men that ha’ read wi’ men
In the open books of death.

Rich are they, rich in wonders seen,
But poor in the goods o’ men;
So what they ha’ got by the skin o’ their teeth
They sell for their teeth again.

For whether they lose to the naked life
Or win to their hearts’ desire,
They tell it all to the weary wife
That nods beside the fire.

Her hearth is wide to every wind
That makes the white ash spin;
And tide and tide and ‘tween the tides
Her sons go out and in;

(Out with great mirth that do desire
Hazard of trackless ways,
In with content to wait their watch
And warm before the blaze);

And some return by failing light,
And some in waking dream,
For she hears the heels of the dripping ghosts
That ride the rough roof-beam.

Home, they come home from all the ports,
The living and the dead;
The good wife’s sons come home again
For her blessing on their head!

Today.. A beautiful poem …

The Old Clock on the Stairs

Somewhat back from the village street
Stands the old-fashioned country-seat.
Across its antique portico
Tall poplar-trees their shadows throw;
And from its station in the hall
An ancient timepiece says to all, —
“Forever — never!
Never — forever!”

Half-way up the stairs it stands,
And points and beckons with its hands
From its case of massive oak,
Like a monk, who, under his cloak,
Crosses himself, and sighs, alas!
With sorrowful voice to all who pass, —
“Forever — never!
Never — forever!”

By day its voice is low and light;
But in the silent dead of night,
Distinct as a passing footstep’s fall,
It echoes along the vacant hall,
Along the ceiling, along the floor,
And seems to say, at each chamber-door, —
“Forever — never!
Never — forever!”

Through days of sorrow and of mirth,
Through days of death and days of birth,
Through every swift vicissitude
Of changeful time, unchanged it has stood,
And as if, like God, it all things saw,
It calmly repeats those words of awe, —
“Forever — never!
Never — forever!”

In that mansion used to be
Free-hearted Hospitality;
His great fires up the chimney roared;
The stranger feasted at his board;
But, like the skeleton at the feast,
That warning timepiece never ceased, —
“Forever — never!
Never — forever!”

There groups of merry children played,
There youths and maidens dreaming strayed;
O precious hours! O golden prime,
And affluence of love and time!
Even as a miser counts his gold,
Those hours the ancient timepiece told, —
“Forever — never!
Never — forever!”

From that chamber, clothed in white,
The bride came forth on her wedding night;
There, in that silent room below,
The dead lay in his shroud of snow;
And in the hush that followed the prayer,
Was heard the old clock on the stair, —
“Forever — never!
Never — forever!”

All are scattered now and fled,
Some are married, some are dead;
And when I ask, with throbs of pain,
“Ah! when shall they all meet again?”
As in the days long since gone by,
The ancient timepiece makes reply, —
“Forever — never!
Never — forever!”

Never here, forever there,
Where all parting, pain, and care,
And death, and time shall disappear, —
Forever there, but never here!
The horologe of Eternity
Sayeth this incessantly, —
“Forever — never!
Never — forever!”

Singles …


I am starting this Blog with a short story…  At least I hope I am, having tried yesterday but missed something and so it didn’t post… 😉

The Single ….

It was Thursday, the day I always visited her grave. The bus came and I asked the driver for a single to the cemetery.

“They are all singles to the cemetery” He said.

I smiled, it was a standing joke between us.

Alighting at the gates, I realised I had left the single rose behind. I had never done that before. She would have laughed at this memory lapse. Indeed, in my mind I could hear her singing now.

“You don’t bring me flowers, any more …”

I tided her grave, picking up the strewn leaves and washing the headstone which bore her name, and a single word at the bottom: Resurgam.

Aloud, I read a page from her favourite book, as always, smiling quietly at the intrigued listeners not far away. It was something I had promised her I would do for a year after she had gone.

Today was the last time, leaving some pages unread. Tempus breve …

Within a few months I would see her again. In the better Place.

The doctors were sure my time was limited. I didn’t care and they were mystified as to why. I would be with my Ellen again soon, but they had no need to know that.

They were doctors; logical, rational, scientifically minded people, and none of them believed in life after death.

They had no understanding of a single ticket.

I do; Ellen did.

@ Michael McFarland 06022015