I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

 Stuart Keene Hine 

The midwife very calmly ask me if I could reach down and hold the baby’s head. It had been 6 hours of contractions now, with Jan falling asleep between these for the last 30 minutes or so. I reached down and held it’s head in my hands (we still had no idea if it was a boy or girl). Once my hand was gently giving some support she calmly asked me if I could also reach the wall and press the large button with my other hand, I did so and within seconds the doors burst open and the room was filled with people whom all appeared to have a very particular purpose, all were very busy ‘doing things’.

Just three hours earlier Jan, just starting on the gas and air, had been trying to sell the midwife budgie seed, “It’s the best you will ever smell” was her final effort at convincing her. She was offering it to her in bulk at a very good price. I could tell she wasn’t herself. 

Although only the baby’s head was showing the mid-wife was already at work with a pair of scissors slowly and carefully cutting away at the umbilical cord that the baby was wearing like a scarf. Once cut the baby slipped out lifeless helped by a couple of the strangers who had magically appeared. It was taken over to a table across the room, I couldn’t see what was happening for the amount of people surrounding the table.

Jan woke and looked at me in her pained, drug induced state whispered “it better not be dead” then fell back asleep. 

A few seconds later I heard the cry followed by the midwife asking  “what are you calling her?”

“Isabella” I said, and then looked around as if to see who had just chosen this name. 

One of the strangers handed her to me and I cuddled her until Jan woke, the room emptied as quickly as it had filled, it was all a little hazy.

For the past 13 years, as a small act of gratitude I have happily given up a couple of hours of my Christmas day to help the amazing team at Swan Bank Methodist Church deliver meals out to the Community. 

On Christmas day after the morning services the team feed up to about 150 people in Church and over 100 meals delivered out to the community, it’s an incredible example of people coming together to serve the those in need on this special day of the year, a well organised army of volunteers help to make it a reality.

I think that there is a great misconception that because you are doing things to help people it will be easy, maybe a guiding hand to look after you. Well I have always found the truth of the matter to be the opposite, the more you put yourself out for others the more challenging it can be. But we grow and we learn from those challenges, that I believe is what life is about.

It also helps I think if you have a sense of humour, and can find humour in the darkest of places. 

This will be the first year since Issy was revived at birth that I have not been a small part of the team. I will miss it but will be thinking of all those helping and of past experiences. 

Some of the strongest memories begin when there is no answer from the knocking at the door. After an increasing louder knock the door opened, it wasn’t properly shut, and there was no answer when speaking and then shouting “hello, we have a Christmas dinner for you” We slowly walked down the hallway to the closed door repeating the greeting. We could hear the TV was on at a high volume. The door at the end of the hallway was pushed open and there he was, a man in the later years of his life, trousers around his ankles, bottle of whiskey in his left hand and his right hand giving himself a special Christmas treat! You would think he would wait for the Queens speech at least. 

I will not forget the old ladies and gentlemen holding back the tears of gratitude as you lay out their dinner and place additional food in their fridges for later or the couple who gave me a lecture about how its all the fault of the immigrants. I bit my tongue and didn’t tell them that some of their dinner would have been donated and prepared by the very people they place all the blame on (whatever it was that was so wrong that they had to find blame).

But mostly I will miss ‘wet paint boy’ who I had the pleasure of delivering to for a number of years. He couldn’t let me in because the flat had just been painted and he didn’t want me to get paint on my clothes. He would gratefully take the dinner etc from me at the door.

At first I wondered if it was a bit like the Forth Bridge, once the last wall was painted he would start again at the beginning. However it was clearly odourless paint.

Lovely lad with a great smile. It would always be my last delivery before heading home for my Christmas dinner. 

Last year Issy eventually came with me, that was a very special day and not without its laughs and tears. A number of people have accompanied me over the years and I am very grateful to all. i hope they too got something out of it.

Next year I hope to be back on the team.

38 days into treatment and no real change to the last post. Spotty and aching slightly in my left hip and right shoulder and back. Other than that i am feeling pretty fit and healthy. 

See you soon, take care, be kind…