Sunday, May 29, 2011


A couple of days ago, I was buying a banana flavoured ice cream for my granddaughter (she loves the stuff, but I can’t quite stomach it), when I was reminded about the second Great War. It seems an odd connection to make, doesn’t it? But really, it isn’t. I barely saw hide or hair of a banana even before the war began, and by the time I was in the countryside working the farms there were even fewer, if you can believe it. A world without bananas was of course not only a world without bananas; it was a world without pineapples and rubber and milk that was fresh. What the world did have was sugared almonds, sunsets, hard work, and Polly. Polly was an inspiration, but I wouldn’t have met her were it not for the grace of God above. I’ve always believed in the right to live every man has at the fundament, life breathed into them, their spirits created out of the ether of the spirits. Humanity itself is based on the fundamental human life, each one, small, large, evil or good. And so I knew that the deaths of millions could not be avenged by more deaths, and in protest, I signed up to help on the home front.

I dug potatoes. I dug potatoes and helped the middle class townfolk do the hard work that their husbands and brothers and cousins had done before them. Of course, many of them being the tough old country folk that they were knew exactly what they were doing and resented a daft young city lad coming in and trying to show them which end was which. So it was really more for myself that I worked, and I did my best to help in what capacities I knew, as a young lad does. I stayed most nights in a small farmhouse, not the one that I was working on, since their rafters were already stocked to the gills, but one about half a mile away. It was a tiny little house, garden in need of weeding, itself in need of a good repainting and a bit of carpentry. Both the sons and the father had heeded the call of the country and queen and marched off to war, leaving the mother and three daughters in charge of the acre strong farm. It was there I met Polly.

Her mother was a voracious woman, and reminded me of a Valkyrie in size and personality. She was really the fullest woman I’ve ever met, stout minded and stout hearted. You can picture her pretty well in her mind, a short thick woman with a red face and red hair, strong, and wore mostly blue. She had small eyes that wrinkled with a smile or a frown at the first opportunity given, and that was the one thing my Polly inherited. Polly’s two younger sisters were interchangeable redheads in personality and appearance, fourteen year old twins with a, shall we say, “playful” demeanor. Freckled, unreliable little daemons they were. Now Polly, well, she was a brunette, much like her dad—he must have been a rather feminine man because she had a sweet, heart of a face and round lips so unlike her mother’s. She was a lot more rounded and muscular than you see in a lot of girls today, but she had to be, out of bed at 4 as she was. She had to have the pigs fed and breakfast ready before anyone else was even awake.

I met her because of God, and this is something I believe in vehemently.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I’m visiting my granddaughter tomorrow, and that reminded me of this blog which I, in absent minded old age, appear to have forgotten about in its entirety. Oh dear. What to write, what to write. Well, that’s the spirit of the thing isn’t it; the heart of the matter, the tale we are telling is the centre of it all. I would be hard pressed to find the centre of my own story, that one revolving event for which my life was created. I’d probably have to say that my faith is the centre of my existence, to see God and to love God and to serve God. I know it isn’t very P.C, but I did serve as a missionary for a time, mostly in Africa but in South America for a while also.  I did most of my service in the slums of cities that were both poor in money but rich in people, a difficult contrast to say the least. I tried my best to be more a teacher of methods than a Bible thumping converter, my job description being in my mind to teach and show a path instead of forcing down my one, which is only one of many. I wanted to show these people, these children the force of my God’s love. Of course, it’s easy to show people that love exists, but harder to prove that it’s for them as well.

If I was that word, then my wife was the action, the movement that made all I said viable, that love and worship and relationship were all intertwined integrally as the most important things the soul needs. My wife fed them, you see. Over her life, she fostered over forty children, and dozens more stayed with us for a day, two days, as long as we needed. She never closed a door, never kicked someone out, and she managed to rear all three of our own children well on top of that. She was sweet, and kind, and gentle, and forgave all mistakes. She worked and volunteered all she could wherever she could, and prayed for those she could not help directly. She was the grace of God personified in my mind.

Sometimes I wonder where she is now. But thanks to the certainty blind religious faith allows me, and yes, I do know my faith is blind and stumbling, but that does not mean it is without thought, and in any case thanks to it I am able to think of my wife as safe in the hands of the Lord I love and that both of us served throughout our lives. He has her in his arms, and he knows her goodness, just as he knows the light that is in the soul of all living people, the life and greatness one person has. She is in a good place now, a place of that light.