Friday, May 31, 2013

For Nikki

This was written the other day, when I had been trying to explain why Scotty's is so amazing.

And then I read an FB post by Nikki Scott, the founder. I wanted her to know she made a difference.

So this is for her, and the whole Scotty team.


A young wife strokes her bump with care,
Torn between tears of joy and despair,
Someone important will never be there.
Daddy didn't come marching home.

A child stands by her mothers side,
Hand held tight, eyes open wide.
There are no more tears to be cried.
Daddy didn't come marching home.

In the dark of the night the children lie sleeping
In her cold bed, mummy lies weeping.
Daddy was a hero, everyone said
And now he's living in the stars instead

A child waits for his time to sing
The stable is ready - he's dressed as a king.
He believes his stepdad sees everything,
Even though he's never coming home.

In the dark of the night the children lie sleeping
In her cold bed, mummy lies weeping.
Daddy was a hero, everyone said
And now he's living in the stars instead

There's a parcel, there's a letter
There's a chance to make things better
There's a Scotty sticker with a smile
There's a laugh, just for a while.

There's a trip out, there's a holiday
There's a chance, just to get away.
There's other mums who understand,
There's support and love, a helping hand.

Daddy was a hero everyone said
Now he's living in the stars instead
And even though Daddy didn't come marching home,
A Scotty Child knows they are never alone.

That's what Scotty's has done for the AC.

He will never be alone.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The biggest game of rugby in the world. Ever.

Today, we are packing, preparing, doing.
Tomorrow we are driving.
Friday is when it all starts.

Leicester Tigers Stadium is at Welford Road, and that's where we will be for the entire 26 hours of the longest rugby match in the world.  By the end of the match, on Saturday lunchtime, it'll be done.  We will have been part of a world record attempt.  Hopefully, we'll have made it.  (You should be there.  There are tickets available on the door - £5! C'mon!)

What Alan Knell, Dave Allison, and 44 amazing players will have done, is to have raised a phenomenal amount of money for Scotty's Little Soldiers.  Currently they are on £43,000 and counting.

I have been thinking about this all week, against the backdrop of Drummer Lee Rigby's murder, against the backdrop of the news, the theories about Islamic fundamentalists, everything.  There is another Scotty Child now, whose name is Jack, who is 2, and who will grow up knowing that in every paper, in every place, there was a picture of his dead father, lying on the ground, a victim of a senseless religious based murder.  But he shouldn't just know that.  He should know about the flowers, about the faith that people showed, about the way that everyone came together.  He should know that he is special, because he is a Scotty Child and he is not alone.

I've talked about Scotty's a lot on this blog.  I have to.  They are an enormous part of the way that the AC is now a fully functioning child, able to laugh and play and cry and do everything that children do, and whilst he still does it with Rich in his mind all the time, he does it anyway now.  I have seen him paralysed with grief and fear.  I have seen him lost, and alone, and afraid.

Today he is excited.  The match starts on Friday, and he is over the moon to know that he will be there, in his Scotty top, and then in his new Scotty Rugby Shirt to walk out with the players.  J and I have ours ready, we are helping out with organising the witnesses and so on.  We'll be there, and awake, for the whole 26 hours.  Today, the AC is looking forward to seeing people pulling together to help Scotty's, to help other children know that they are not alone.

When Rich died, we lost him, the RAF, contact with his daughter, everything.  His family didn't stay in contact as they had said they would.  It was all gone.  But we had it easy - Rich and I weren't married so we lived in the town, not on the camp.  I had a mortgage, in my sole name, on the house that we still live in. The AC went to the same school, was supported by his friends, was cherished by our friends and family, kept his bedroom the same, his house, everything.  I kept my job, kept my house, and although things were very tight financially, we got through.

Other Scotty families aren't so lucky.  If the serving parent dies, the Forces have no option but to serve notice on the married accommodation. The children usually have to move from the camp school.  The surviving parent often loses her support network, the people who know what Forces life was like, often she has to move to an entirely new area if she is going to be dependent on social housing - she and her children will be returned to the area from which they moved into service accommodation, regardless of where that is. Everything goes, and in the midst of all of this is the crushing grief of why this is all going, why everything is changing - because Daddy didn't come marching home.

Events like this weekend are something that reaches out to the AC, and I think to the other families as well. It provides that sense of not being alone with this.  Of being with people who understand.  Of being with people who don't understand, because mercifully they haven't been there, but who want to help, who want to support.  People who will force their body through 26 hours of rugby to raise money to help my son and others like him.

I cannot ever thank these 44 people enough, nor yet Dave and Alan, nor yet the team of people who are helping.

It's not just that they are doing it, it's that they cared enough to want to, and that through caring that much, they really have put the smile back on my Scotty Child's face.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday Words - Alumnus Football, by Grantland Rice.

Today the AC played his second game of football for the school.  He scored his first goal.  I was proud, he was proud, his dad was there and was proud, J wasn't there, but bought Chinese for tea to celebrate the goal, but more importantly, his teacher said that the way AC played the game was brilliant.  He said that the AC was able to carry on when he was bodyslammed in a tackle and hit the ground like a ton of bricks, that he wasn't selfish with the ball and passed to others, that he was always moving, always trying, always pushing forward, and that he smiled, laughed and called for the ball all the way through.  He said that he was a player who put the team first.

It made me think of the last two lines of this poem, which are inscribed on a plaque on one of our school walls, in memory of a teacher at the school who died a couple of years ago.  There are several things that I am doing at the moment, in which I may win or lose - but I need to think about how I play the game.  Will I like what the One Great Scorer writes?

Alumnus football
Grantland Rice

Bill Jones had been the shining star upon his college team.
His tackling was ferocious and his bucking was a dream.
When husky William took the ball beneath his brawny arm
They had two extra men to ring the ambulance alarm.

Bill hit the line and ran the ends like some mad bull amuck.
The other team would shiver when they saw him start to buck.
And when some rival tackler tried to block his dashing pace,
On waking up, he'd ask, "Who drove that truck across my face?"

Bill had the speed-Bill had the weight-Bill never bucked in vain;
From goal to goal he whizzed along while fragments, strewed the plain,
And there had been a standing bet, which no one tried to call,
That he could make his distance through a ten-foot granite wall.

When he wound up his college course each student's heart was sore.
They wept to think bull-throated Bill would sock the line no more.
Not so with William - in his dreams he saw the Field of Fame,
Where he would buck to glory in the swirl of Life's big game.

Sweet are the dreams of college life, before our faith is nicked-
The world is but a cherry tree that's waiting to be picked;
The world is but an open road-until we find, one day,
How far away the goal posts are that called us to the play.

So, with the sheepskin tucked beneath his arm in football style,
Bill put on steam and dashed into the thickest of the pile;
With eyes ablaze he sprinted where the laureled highway led-
When Bill woke up his scalp hung loose and knots adorned his head.

He tried to run the ends of life, but with rib-crushing toss
A rent collector tackled him and threw him for a loss.
And when he switched his course again and dashed into the line
The massive Guard named Failure did a toddle on his spine.

Bill tried to punt out of the rut, but ere he turned the trick
Right Tackle Competition scuttled through and blocked the kick.
And when he tackled at Success in one long, vicious prod
The Fullback Disappointment steered his features in sod.

Bill was no quitter, so he tried a buck in higher gear,
But Left Guard Envy broke it up and stood him on his ear.
Whereat he aimed a forward pass, but in two vicious bounds
Big Center Greed slipped through a hole and rammed him out of bounds.

But one day, when across the Field of Fame the goal seemed dim,
The wise old coach, Experience, came up and spoke to him.
"Oh Boy," he said, "the main point now before you win your bout
Is keep on bucking Failure till you've worn the piker out!"

"And, kid, cut out this fancy stuff - go in there, low and hard;
Just keep your eye upon the ball and plug on, yard by yard,
And more than all, when you are thrown or tumbled with a crack,
Don't sit there whining-hustle up and keep on coming back;

"Keep coming back with all you've got, without an alibi,
If Competition trips you up or lands upon your eye,
Until at last above the din you hear this sentence spilled:
'We might as well let this bird through before we all get killed.'

"You'll find the road is long and rough, with soft spots far apart,
Where only those can make the grade who have the Uphill Heart.
And when they stop you with a thud or halt you with a crack,
Let Courage call the signals as you keep on coming back.

"Keep coming back, and though the world may romp across your spine,
Let every game's end find you still upon the battling line;
For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name,
He writes - not that you won or lost - but how you played the Game."

Now head over to Wednesday Words with CrazyWithTwins, and help her play the game.  She's having a rough time, and needs to know there's a team behind her.  Be leaving of the bloggy love as she prepares to battle things I can't even spell!

Crazy With Twins

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wednesday Words - Stevie Smith

This is a poem to describe how I've been feeling recently.  As though I am much too far out, and not waving but drowning.  Again, it's one that I've known for a long time, and enjoyed at different periods of my life for different reasons.  Now, it's report writing season, it's a child who wants to know details of his stepfathers death, it's a campervan that always needs something, it's teaching which always needs something, it's a house that always needs something, it's a child and a man who always need something, and it's stretching me thin.  It's a poem that asks us to look at our perceptions of the actions of others.  How many of us are, like me at the moment, like a swan?  Serene on the surface and paddling like heck beneath the surface just trying to stay afloat?

Anyway, albeit a day late, here are my Wednesday Words.

Not Waving But Drowning.

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning;
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him, his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh no, no, no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life,
And not waving, but drowning.

See?  That assumption that he was larking meant that his worries were missed, and society tidied up what it wanted to think about his death.

Anyway, now you need to pop over to Crazy With Twins who is no doubt more cheerful than me.
Crazy With Twins