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Monday, 11 November 2013


Memories are so important.... Sometimes they can be a wonderful tonic for our souls, sometimes they are painful and full of regret. Good or bad, longed for or unwanted, memories help to make our lives and our very beings what they are.
As we observe Remembrance Sunday today inevitably our thoughts are dominated by those who have suffered and died in the service of their country. We may have a glimpse of disability and suffering in our own life, but when you consider all those men and women who live with horrific injuries and lifelong disabilities, or those who have lost their lives, or their loved ones, as they have willingly given themselves for their country.... I find it very humbling. Suzie and I were so grateful to God that we were able to get out this morning and join with the hundreds of people who gathered at the War Memorial on the sea front for an act of worship and remembrance. We WILL remember them.
Memories have been dominant in other areas of our personal life in recent weeks. We've had many days of utter 'darkness', despair and endless tears as Suzie struggles to come to terms with the ever increasing number of things that she can no longer do. Her once busy, jovial and super-active life is now just a memory, and she grieves for every ability that she has lost and for all of her previously regular activities that will now only ever be memories. Sometimes remembering the 'good times' together can bring a little joy, but often it simply intensifies the pain and sense of loss.
I try to keep us focussed on what we still have, and I constantly encourage Suzie to try to continue with some of the hobbies she used to enjoy. Even if she can't do them as well as she previously did, I still believe that the act of engaging in them is therapeutic in itself, and that any accomplishment is something of which she should be proud. So I was delighted when she said she would attempt an art project. Suzie used to make framed miniatures of Pubs, cottages and various other buildings, and her work can be seen on display in numerous Restaurants, Pubs, shops etc. for miles around. She made them from scratch out of 2mm thick card and various other recycled materials (eg. a piece of old towel, when painted, makes a very convincing thatched roof!!) She did everything 'by eye' and would only ever use a ruler to cut a straight line, never to measure anything!! Suzie and her models have been featured on Local Television and in Newspapers many times over the years.
It took half an hour to get her 'set up', and we had to adapt many of her techniques as she is no longer able to use sharp scissors or a Stanley Knife as safely or accurately as she once could, and she can no longer draw very well, but she managed to get absorbed into the activity for nearly an hour, and I was so proud of her.
I probably felt the sense of achievement more than she did. For me it was a delight to watch her doing something she loved and something she thought she would never be able to do again. Suzie wasn't quite so enthused, probably because it took so much more effort than it used to, and also because she thinks that the end result won't match up to her previously exceptional standards. Again, it was the memories of how things used to be that took the edge off the joy that might otherwise have been felt. But we can gradually build on her confidence and sense of achievement as the weeks go on because I'm sure that, now she has started this project and seen some degree of success, she will want to see it through.
On a final note (just to prove that my own memory is still intact!) I do remember that I promised a medical update.... We had a phone call from the Hospital asking us to come in and see the Respiratory Consultant to discuss the results of Suzie's overnight Oximetry test. He will tell us if there were any problems with Suzie's blood oxygen levels during her sleep and, if so, what they can do about it. We now also have a wonderful Neuro-physio visiting us regularly and gradually helping us to resolve and/or manage the issues that have been causing increasing difficulties in recent weeks and months. God is good.

I'll leave you with a little glimpse of Suzie 'at work', and some photos of a few of the models that she has made in years gone by, many of which can still be found on display in various local Pubs etc. where they are admired by the many people who see them. Enjoy!

Holcombe Cottage
Dartmoor Half Way House

A Devon Cottage
The Sandygate Inn

Fairweather News

The Elizabethan Inn