"Today I go into hospital for a blood transfusion which keeps my body organs oxygenated. It is almost two years since I was informed that I had a terminal illness and a year since I completed a nine month course of chemotherapy, since which I have received blood transfusions between fortnightly and three weekly intervals. I will be moved to four weekly transfusions after Christmas.
While in hospital today, I will also be thinking about my sister-in-law's father, Ken Gamble, who sadly died out in Australia earlier this morning. My deepest sympathy goes out to his wife Mavis and all the family. Mavis and Ken spent a great many years of their earlier life as free spirits, travelling the length and breadth of Australia in a camper van.
During the past year, I have had pneumonia for almost two months, a leg ulcer which resulted from a fall and which can take over a year to heal and I have also been diagnosed with Capel Tunnel syndrome in each hand. I have had one painful hand operated on and will hopefully get the other hand operated on soon after Christmas.
Given that I was born in the Chinese year of the horse, I am content to believe it is that magnificent creature from where I get my constitution, along with the freedom for my mind and body to roam. I mention this series of incidents, not to elicit your sympathetic response of 'poor you', but instead to hopefully illustrate 'lucky me.' When I consider that with having no effective immune system the pneumonia alone could have killed me off, I regard myself as being truly blessed to still be around to tell the tale and open my presents on Christmas morning.
Over this past couple of years, I have never been happier in my life. Had anyone previously told me that such a state was possibly under such circumstances, it would have been hard for me to believe, but I assure you it is perfectly true. I know full well that my lovely wife and siblings and many friends are largely to credit for me being able to maintain my disposition of contentment, but I also know that this reason stands not on its own as full explanation. I know that how I see myself is and has always been important to my outcome, and after 73 years I can truly say that I have fully come to terms with myself, the decisions I've made and the life I have led.
I will not pretend that this has been an easy process as it is often difficult having a good hard look and admitting to oneself where one has gone wrong and might have done things better. Over the past few years, I have found my writing to flow far easier than ever before and today, it requires no greater energy than the turning on and off of a tap. Nowadays, I really enjoy writing in a way that I haven't always experienced. I enjoy the daily exercise of marshalling thoughts, composing stories and recalling events I have lived. It all helps to keep me in touch with my roots and to keep my ego grounded.
Over the past year I have literally added over one thousand extra Facebook contacts from the place where I was born and places I have lived since childhood; Ireland, Hightown, Canada, Mirfield and Haworth, and there is rarely a morning now when I don't have many dozens of messages on my laptop to answer before I can look at other interests. I am particularly pleased that my 'Thought for Today' is well received by a great many of you across the globe and also that is known to be of some help from time to time.
The last year has simply been a wonderful year for me all round. I have never felt as happy or so blessed in my life from the support I have been given and the many new friends and contacts I have made. Were I able to go back to my early twenties when I tended to be more aloof, believe me when I tell you that I would not have been afraid in the slightest to have thrown opened my heart then as widely as I could have done and received the flood of love I have tasted in return this past twelve months. Thank you. I love you all xxx.
During one's life there are special songs and singers who manage to mean something extra special to us at certain times for one reason or another. As my special Christmas gift, I offer you this message: 'If you find it too hard to face or believe in the coming year, it helps if you break it down and learn to believe in today. Take each moment life offers you graciously and just as the proverbial alcoholic is advised, take each year one day at a time!'
I gladly introduce you to my designated Christmas song and the singer that I have most enjoyed this past year. The words of the song epitomises the essence of my message, the purpose of my being and the very core of my beliefs. It is a song I am unable hear without crying at its sheer depth of meaning. Bill." December 10th, 2015.