"Yesterday, my body was tired as a consequence of a chest infection which is now going into its 15th week and I spent most of the day in bed, resting. When I looked back on my post one year ago, I had just experienced a twelve week bout of pneumonia, immediately following an 18 month period indoors having undergone a nine month period of cancer treatment. As a consequence, I missed out on most of last year's summer and apart from a brief holiday in Crete this year, I have also missed out on this year's summer also.
If any of you place any store upon any of my words, please believe me when I tell that missing out on what any summer or season has to offer you is a great waste, and missing out on even one moment of life is a greater tragedy! If you are wise, you will open yourself up to the fullest experience of the season and its boundless possibilities to re-engage fully with God's nature and mankind's nurture.
Summer should be a time free of responsibility and rife with budding possibility. The Spanish and the Italians seem to have it right with their early work-day finishes. In England, summer is often known as the 'silly season', when newspapers that are not filled with frivolity are instead carriers of fish and chips.
I welcomed the summer this year like the farmer might welcome rain after a prolonged drought because I view summertime as being the best of what might be. Having largely missed out on two consecutive summers now has been the most unwelcome of experiences for me. In order to feel the summer in me, I have had to resort to recollections of a previous time and that has necessitated me thinking of summers of my youth and early manhood when life seemed less hectic and more civilised.
As a child growing up in the 1950s, every summer had a story. Summer months meant long school holidays spent outdoors between dawn and dusk, working alongside dad making hay or picking potatoes to earn extra household income and swimming in dams and the River Calder with my school friends. The family would also collect blackberries from the hedgerows and swear that the jam mum made tasted better than any which could be bought from any shop. Like the short lives of butterflies, children crammed in as much as they could, flitting from here to there in the brief span of freedom allotted to them during their six-weeks' school holidays.
In our teenage years, summer seemed a more adventurous time of the year to belong to. Seeing the sun shine brightly and being able to dress in colourful and free-flowing clothes put an extra spring into the steps of the young as girlfriend and boyfriend walked down fields and across dale in search for a secluded, romantic spot that wasn't too close to home without wandering too far away from acceptable values of courting conduct. In every boy and girl's life are memorable moments never to be repeated, along with a girl or boy they’ll never forget and a summer where it all began. It was during this part of my life when I learned to distinguish the difference between the romantic summer mist and the intensity of emotions that the heat of summer can create. One of the sayings at the time was, 'When the sun gets hot and the moon gets hazy, good girls go bad and bad boys go crazy!'
During one's married life, summer months meant holidays with the family and trying to keep two to five children pleasurably occupied without us breaking the bank or they their boisterous necks as they ran wild across Blackpool tram lines towards the waiting beach and the sand, waving their buckets and spades. These were still the days of family holidays at the British seaside, where children wanted to play on the beach, come rain or shine and in the event of it pouring down, the family would retreat to the thrill and frustration of the amusement arcades filled with penny and two-penny slot machines, as tried to push a ledge of piled pennies over the edge and into their pockets. Once a good boarding house was found, one usually returned to it. I recall that my mother-in-law returned to the one she'd found in Morecambe over twenty consecutive years! She'd certainly deserve a 'loyalty card' for that today.
When I was having nine months of cancer treatment two winters ago, I came across a few favourite lines written by the author Albert Camus, that upon first reading in my early twenties, I never quite understood, but which are much clearer to me now and better fitting these days: 'In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.'
If but one thing, I have recognised through a succession of medical problems I've encountered over the past year; that I too have within an invincible summer that I intend to hold on to as long as humanely possible. I still feel that there are too many stories I have yet to write, too many conversations to hold, too many books to read, too many moments yet to enjoy, too many friends still to make and too many cooking delights of Sheila still worthy of the tasting." William Forde: July 3rd, 2015
" William Forde: July 3rd, 2015.