"Yesterday was a strange day health wise. Even moving a few yards left me breathless. We are beginning to suspect that my pacemaker, which was due for exchange soon, has stopped working, which if true, would account for my overall symptoms. I will check myself into Airedale Hospital today if any department is working, as it's an extremely dangerous situation if my pacemaker has stopped working. It most certainly needs checking out. In short, I am presently lacking my usual bounce.
A self-evident truth which I learned long before I became an adult was that children need their bounce to keep healthy in mind and body. Children cannot bounce off the walls if you take away the walls that constrain them.
Being brought up in the 1950s and 60s in a large family with two parents who knew the enormous benefit that could be derived from stuffing their children's lungs with fresh air and lots of walking, I can never remember a time in my life when I was stuck in my bedroom, stuck in my house, experienced boredom or didn't want to be out and about. Not having money, didn't dictate our pleasure, so long as we were able to do 'as a family' the things we most liked to do. One of the most important things my father taught his children was to stretch our legs, and every Sunday afternoon, he and mum would walk us across the fields from Windybank Estate down to Brighouse Park, three milres away, where they would listen to the brass band while we played in the open air. A three-mile walk back home always made us enjoy our tea more, along with our sleep that night.
The most important thing my mother taught her children was how to stretch our minds with the many stories she told, and how to stretch our generosity beyond self, beyond immediate family and loved ones, to neighbours and friends.
Not having been brought up in a world with computers, laptops, cassette players, and all manner of games that are played in the solitary corner of one's bedroom prevented the stultification of our brains and enabled us to develop a healthy imagination. While there was always a child who might be overweight, such was the exception instead of the rule, and it certainly wasn't the current epidemic most of our children today experience through lack of physical exercise.
When I married and had a family of my own, I am pleased to say that my love of walking along the canal bank, in the nearby woods, and across the fields continued. For almost ten years as an access parent after my divorce, although I could only see my two children for four hours weekly, if it rained we stayed in and played games and if it was fine we went out and walked and walked. When my third and fourth child came along, never one weekend went by without a walk to nearby Hopton Woods, which William and Rebecca looked forward to. The most important aspect of these walks was not only the exercise but the opportunity it gave me and my children to talk about whatever they wanted to talk about during our journey!
Until five or six years ago, when my mobility lessened considerably, I would always meet up with all of my brothers and sisters and their spouses and children to go on a 'Boxing Day Family Walk', whatever the weather! This was a tradition which was started by my brother Peter twenty years earlier and which still carries on today; unfortunately without me.
As I have aged, my mobility has gradually worsened year upon year and I have moved from walking miles weekly to one of mere yards. In fact, because of my permanent ill health and blood cancer, my absence of any effective immune system attracts countless chest infections and bouts of pneumonia, and renders me housebound most days. In the year of 2016, I was obliged to spend ten of the past twelve months indoors.
Just because I can no longer walk my body, I now depend upon the literary substitute for walking my mind from story plot to story plot. I am so grateful of those many walks my parents took me on and which I too took my children, and I am even more grateful that I still possess the mental faculties to vividly recall them.
The old saying that 'The best things in life are free' is so true. So, stop being one of those 'stoppers in' while you have the mobility to walk yourself out and about and enjoy this wonderful world of nature that is on all our doorsteps. Even I intend to get out today; even if it's a trip to the emergency A&E department of our local hospital. Sheila and I wish you all a Happy Boxing Day." William Forde: 26th, 2016.