"For hundreds and thousands of years, man has expressed his appreciation, love and respect to his mother, lover, friends, sick, and bereaved, through flowers. When we say it with flowers, we convey that we are part of a human garden of common understanding. Flowers remain our constant friends. They mark the season and attend all occasions, whether joyful, sad, romantic, or celebratory. They can communicate commiseration, compassion and concern.
Flowers speak a universal language that all nations and peoples understand by their mere offering at certain times in our lives.They say a simple, 'Thank you', and in doing so, spread beauty and appreciation to another's world. They say, 'I love you', and in doing so, stir one's soul and drown one's senses in a well of emotional pleasure. By saying, 'Goodbye, dear friend', they wish Bon Voyage to a person they hope to meet again; whether in this life or in the next. Often, flowers are given as a means of saying to friends and family members who experience the breakup of a relationship or the ending of a marriage, 'I empathise with your hurt and I just want you to know that I'm here for you'.
How many of our dear mothers, now deceased, invoked us to put flowers in their hands whilst they lived instead of on their grave when they could no longer smell them? I don't think that my youngest brother, Michael, bought my mother flowers too often while she lived. Yet, since she died thirty-one years ago, he has taken it upon himself to be the prime tender of my parents' grave in Heckmondwike. He is prone to plant a rose, instead of place cut flowers upon the ground to wither and die in their bunches and to be scattered around the cemetery during inclement weather. I find this act to be a wonderful deed by a mother's youngest son. I believe Michael's living floral tribute to be no less than sunshine food and medicine for my parents' souls, and I can but rejoice that flowers now cover my parents' grave, where only a blanket of dirt once used to be.
I remember a dearly departed friend of mine, the television presenter of 'Gardener's World', the late Geoffrey Smith, saying over lunch one day, 'We are only here on this earth for a short visit, Bill, so don't waste the journey. Don't hurry, don't worry; just enjoy the human garden and be sure to smell the flowers as you go by.' I knew Geoffrey for many years, and just as my late friend Hannah Hauxwell was loved by the general public, so was Geoffrey. In fact, if Hannah was the finest lady I ever had the pleasure of knowing, Geoffrey Smith was the warmest and most perfect gentleman.
Before Geoffrey died, in order to show my appreciation for the dozen or more times he spent a day in my company, planting trees for charitable causes, or reading my books in school assemblies to raise awareness regarding a number of social issues, I jointly composed a song for him called, 'We must smell the roses as we pass by'. He gratefully accepted the song and requested after he'd heard it, 'Bill, when I'm dead, I urge you to turn this song you gave me into a hymn while retaining the message and sentiment'.
On Holy Saturday of 2011, I stayed up into the early morning hours and re-wrote the words of Geoffrey's song; tweaking a few notes here and there in its composition and arrangement, turning it into a hymn. On the morning of Easter Sunday, 2011, I re-dedicated the original song which had once been presented to Geoffrey, and gave it to my lovely Sheila, as her hymn from her man.
Sheila has been given many gifts in her life, but never a hymn before. Perhaps it was the unusual nature of the gift that led the recipient of it to perceive the donor as also being unusual enough to marry? Two choirs sang the hymn at our wedding on the 10/11/12 (St. Anne's Catholic Church Choir and West Lane Baptist Chapel Choir), and I will have it played at my funeral when that time arrives. Meanwhile, as Sheila has been the church organist for almost twenty years, every week we go to Mass, Sheila plays her hymn to me before the service starts. I have occasionally heard someone say, 'What is that hymn called, Bill? Who is it by? I don't know it' I am often tempted to say, it used to belong to a famous television gardener called Geoffrey Smith, but today it is Sheila's hymn; it belongs to her. Meanwhile, as I listen to it weekly being played by Sheila, it remains 'our secret' from the listening congregation.
The Hymn is called, 'Be my Life' and it essentially reminds all Christians that God represents, 'Love, Peace, Joy and Life ' and that through our 'Hearing, Doing, Feeling and Living of God's holy word', we go around our lives on a carousel of love.'
I enclose the hymn below for those who might like to hear 'Sheila's hymn'. The musical version without the words is Sheila playing it. Please understand that the recorded version I have given you access to through my website was not professionally recorded on our wedding day and the microphone used was a mobile telephone within the congregation of a crowded chapel. As you listen to it, you can read the words being sung, which are in four verses above the musical score. We have retained it simply because a friend thought it would be a nice memento of the occasion as he sat in the congregation recording it." William Forde: February 11th, 2018.