My song today is ‘Everyday is a Winding Road’. This song is the second single from American singer and songwriter Sheryl Crow's 1996 eponymous album. Neil Finn, the lead singer of ‘Crowded House’, provides backing vocals. The album covers topics of American life, relationship breakups, and moral and ethical issues such as drug-taking. It encompasses a variety of music genres such as rock, blues, country, and folk.
Whenever I hear this song, I automatically consider it to be analogous to our journey of life. In the chorus is repeated the sentences:
“Every day is a winding road, I get a little bit closer.
Every day is a faded sign, I get a little bit closer
to feeling fine.”
Every moment of joy in my life, each surprise, every disappointment, every fear, or bout of pain, each smile, every laugh, all my happiness, every breath taken, every love expressed; all these things that come unexpectedly to us for the most part, we take on board and deal with them during our everyday journey. Indeed, it is the amalgamation of those things that eventually come to map out our route and steer our compass through stormy weather and days of meteorological calm and settledness.
Just as nature rarely gives us the same type of weather long enough for our bodies to seasonally adjust to, our journey through life will experience as many changes and challenges to cope with. We shall experience gale forces, choppy weather, sunny days, rainy days, drought, intense heat, hunger, and moments of plenty. Providing our showers in life are followed by sufficient sunlight that heralds rainbows to walk beneath, we shall always have hope of a brighter tomorrow, as we continue to walk between clouds of uncertainty that sometimes threaten and clear, and on other occasions rain relentlessly As we daily walk through valleys of moral mazes that have but one end for the righteous person, we develop character strengths we never knew we possessed.
It is the culmination of millions and millions of experiences of the moment which make up my lifetime, and which have sustained me during my journey of Thanksgiving. Little did my mother know, or I suspect, that after bringing me into the world, like all the mothers before her, she could prepare me, and even start me on my journey, but know that she would have to let me travel without her after putting me on the righteous path to follow. There is never a more heart-breaking moment for a loving mother and son than when they uncouple our hands, not knowing when they will next be entwined.
From that day after I had flown my mother’s nest, I have walked alongside all manner of life’s pilgrims, living the life my mother gave birth to, and which God enabled to be born. The road has never been straight for me, but it has always wound and curved with possibility. Though it has never been possible to see the nature of tomorrow’s road to travels as one twists and turns at every corner reached to view twists and turns ahead, I have always been able to visualise the next signpost in the distance, and have never once felt lost. Although I have never possessed the capacity to see around the next bend that winds ahead, there has always been an awareness about me that I cannot fully explain; a belief born in of the certainty of the moment however uncertain the inclement weather conditions seem to be.
My greatest certainty (especially in my life stages of child and old man) is that I have never walked my path alone, and I have had purpose and conviction in every stride I have taken. There have been times when I have been strong enough to walk for days on end without stopping breath. There have been many times from my first major accident and illness at the age of 11 years when I know that I have been physically carried on the shoulders of my parents, my siblings, my friends, and my God, before being placed back down on the ground to make my own way once more. In more recent times, however, such walks of endurance get more difficult each time I stop, rest, and start once more.
At this precise moment in my life, I sense that my road is running out and this increased awareness has made my mind and body too tired to travel much farther down it. Each morning I restart my journey, the signposts of my future in the distance ahead seem less faded and I imagine my ultimate destination being just beyond the horizon ahead. Until I can walk no more, I shall walk my road beneath an archway of multiple rainbows in complete certainty that I do not walk alone, and that the love I have always felt, and which is mirrored in my wife, Sheila, and that is reflected in your continuous kind actions towards me will never cease to shadow me.
Each of us who faces death remains immodest enough to think about a legacy we leave behind. Last night, was a strange night for me. I had experienced a very painful day and went to bed at 8:00 pm mentally tired and physically exhausted. I slept all night (in between the obligatory need to urinate) and it was 13 hours later when I eventually got up. My night was pain-free and unusually calmer, given the discomfort of my facial cancer bumps that are growing fast and furious along my throat and beneath my chin. I have always been a dreamer but as with all dreamers, one can go ages without having a vivid one. Last night, I dreamed all night long. It was the same dream I had repeated over and over. My dream was not sad, even though it was concerning a time after I had passed. In many ways, it was the most pleasant and satisfying of dreams I have ever had.
I know that some of you hate it when I talk about my inevitable death, but I also know that my words bring more hope than despair to even greater numbers. All of my life, ever since the age of 11 years, I have engaged in charitable work. This work came about because of a promise I made with my Maker when I heard a hospital doctor tell my parents standing at the bottom of my bed “I’m sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Forde, but I’m afraid that your son Billy, will be dead by the morning. Even were he to somehow live, he would never walk again!” my parents were informed in the hospital sideward. Hearing these words I resolved, “Oh, no I won’t!”.
At that moment, I promised God that if HE let me live and walk that I would spend the rest of my life working for the good of others. God kept his part of the deal, and although it would be many years later in my twenties before I would remember the promise I had made, it was put into action, and was never forgotten or not acted on again. God had kept his part of the bargain with me, and I have tried to honour my side of it ever since.
Just as death is never the end, I want to leave a befitting legacy in the future that demonstrates that, and which fits the beliefs of myself and my wife Sheila perfectly. My recurring dream last night showed me the way to do this without breaking anyone’s piggy bank open. Over my life, but especially during my most arduous time during the past ten years when I have contracted four cancers. I have never felt that I have walked my road alone. Despite one dozen life-saving cancer operations during this past decade, along with other cancer courses such as chemo and radiotherapy, plus other procedures more than I can count, I have lived with three different body cancers (two of them terminal) for the past ten years.
During this last decade, I have witnessed first-hand the goodness of my fellow humans, the love they have expressed toward me and Sheila through their daily thoughts, their kind words of encouragement, their prayers, lit candles, and masses said on my behalf across the world. I know that my words and actions have been of help to so many of you during your own personal and medical difficulties, as you never allow a day to go by without kindly telling me that I have helped you by merely being me.
However, any help I have been able to give you, is no more than a mere drop in the ocean, to the mountain of love and help you have all heaped on me and Sheila during this long time. I lie not when I tell you, that over the past decade, I have felt humbled by your love. I have felt like I would imagine the most loved man in the world to feel like. I know that it has been your expressed love and willingness to walk beside me on my journey that has brought this awareness of about. I also feel that it is not that I have let you walk beside me on my road, as you have long been travelling along the same road anyway, although we are at different stages on our journey. What I feel is that we have allowed ourselves to meet up during our journey and have been content to walk alongside each other. I daily witness such selfless acts of unqualified love being expressed by you toward others, on the Facebook pages of others daily.
I have a dream that in the future when my earth life has ended, that someone, somewhere in the world will still be able to walk alongside me as a companion of love, I have a dream that my death need not prevent that experience from happening on earth. Imagine a person who has lost their complete eyesight and are frightened to walk their road alone? Now, imagine having a lifelong friend, a good companion, and a loyal soul mate in the form and shape of a ‘Guide dog for the Blind’, who would love to have as their life purpose ‘walking this road' with you. The charity would be called ‘Walking with William’, and the name of any guide dog purchased on behalf of an unsighted person would be called ‘William’.
I spent my earlier years devoted to numerous charitable causes. Despite the many hundreds of thousands of pounds, I have raised for charity in the past, I could have raised much more had I wished. However, I never wanted to place any amount of money as being more important than the message I was bringing awareness to. Since the New Millennium and around 2003, I have never once asked any Facebook contact for money as people have their own chosen charity to support, and there are enough demands on one’s money made every day of the week. Also, even charities today are too greedy by half and are not satisfied with the occasional nominal donation of an individual’s change or small coin anymore. Like Shylock, put that £1 coin back in your pocket, they will not be satisfied until they have a pound of your flesh instead!
’Walk with William’ would be less concerned with the individual amount of contribution. I would prefer to see 1000 people give £1 each instead of receiving one single donation of £10OO. The initial target would be modest by charity-raising means. Its target would be to provide one guide dog for one unsighted person through the donations of thousands of people who know me and who have ‘Walked with William’ already and who continue to walk with me.
This is one charity I cannot organise and I will need a Facebook friend to operate it on my behalf. While remaining a substantial commitment, it is not an onerous commitment, that involves the following:
(!) Arranging a solicitor to legally set up ‘Walk with William’ as a charity of official status.
(2) Arranging to account for any donations to be given.
(3) To aim for the Guide Dog to be purchased within a three-five-year period if possible and to befriend its owner. Hopefully, the dog will be alive a dozen years later, as may you. THIS WOULD BE A ONE DOG ONLY PURCHASE as its value is in the message sent out and not the money raised. One guide dog takes about two years to train and costs a total of £30,000 covering everything from boarding a dog to extensive drilling by professional trainers in serving the needs of the blind to a weekslong period acclimating the dog to the recipient.
(4) I will ask Sheila to donate the sales profits from any future sales of my books for children, young adults, or adults solely to ‘Walk with William’ charity. Such money is nominal these days but by occasionally purchasing a book for self, friend, or family member at birthday or Christmas, you can add 50 pence a purchase to this charitable fund.
(5) I would ask anyone to whom this Charity appeals to modestly donate to the ‘Walk with William’ and to also identify one old/elderly person to walk with once a year,’ briefly. Just do something kind for them that lets them know they are not alone. It can involve something as small as a brief walk along the road, or even around their garden in the safety of not falling. Tell them that I am also walking with them in spirit as you have walked with me on my journey.
I hope that you all have a long think about helping in any modest way as suggested and that I am around for as long as possible. Any Facebook Friend of mine out there who is prepared to undertake the task of organising this Charity, please contact me privately on messenger, and if more than one applicant, I will decide on the most suitable. I am requesting that making the lifetime of the charity, long enough to pay for one Guide Dog only being sufficient. With regard to raising the required money and the lifespan of the 'Walk with William' charity, this is tantamount to a 15-year valuable experience.
Love and peace