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Sunday, 8 December 2013


By the grace of God, this should be the final blog I write while sitting alone in our house. Because on Monday 9th December, Alex my wife should return home from a four-month stay in hospital. This had been a result of a total loss of ability to stand up and walk in August, shortly after returning home from a camping holiday at the Jurassic Coast resort of Swanage in Dorset. At last, she is able to stand up and walk unaided, albeit only for a short distance. After returning home, a visitor from the Department of Occupational Therapy will monitor her for the following six weeks, to ensure that she becomes physically stronger and live a normal independent life, and the therapist will be there if Alex were to suffer a relapse.
Really, these last four months were a time of testing, particularly with faith, patience, and emotions. If anything, it was my emotions which were more dynamic than the most gut-wrenching roller-coaster ride ever thought of. There were times when I lay in bed in the middle of the night haunted by uncertainty of the future and as a result, gripped with fear. Also while in bed, I turned towards the vacant space where my wife should be which ensured the feeling of loneliness. Those where the times I cried out to God, and also to ponder; why us? Strange as it felt, day to day living while she was confined to hospital had brought in reminiscence of my bachelor days spanning from 1976 to 1999. But as I wrote in one of my previous blogs - No, It's Not The Same, (November 2013) - there was various differences between a life as a committed single person and that of a husband whose wife is ill in hospital. But not all was negative. There were times I enjoyed the solitariness of being alone at home during the day, even if it was for just a few hours once a week - Saturday mornings. Then those daily trips to hospital as each time I anticipated being close to Alex and cuddling up to her while sitting beside her bed, and watching her very gradually making progress towards recovery.

But there were the downsides. As our home town does not have a hospital, we rely on the nearest one in Reading, a city eleven miles down the track. Since I don't drive but rely on public transport, delayed trains were the bane of these daily trips! Not too bad when the weather was warm during late Summer, but as soon as the chilly Autumn breeze started to blow a draught along the platform, along with the rain too, that was when train punctuality would have been a morale-booster. Then there were the three weeks when Alex was at the specialist John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where I could only visit her for three evenings a week - Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, due to both time and financial pressures. This involved a change of trains at Reading station, and the return journey home was a real headache, believe me! Because of the Autumn leaf fall on the line, Southwest Trains had this brilliant idea of changing the timetable so that departure times out of Reading to my home town were a few minutes earlier. That means, after the express from Oxford pulls into Reading, I make a dash to the appropriate platform to see my connecting train pull out towards the dark horizon yonder. This happened with nearly all the return journeys from Oxford.

Reading Station

But the afternoon spent with Alex in a single-bed ward at Oxford made these harassing journeys worthwhile. Here we had privacy, away from other patients, as in a conventional ward. It was a return, although momentary by comparison, to near-normal married life where we could relate to each other without being constantly watched or overheard.

As I reflect, something I often do, I feel so fortunate to have someone such as Alex for a wife. Although I'm aware that any reader who is single may not feel too elated over this, I have to admit that being married is such a blessing from God. Surely, going back to the dawn of history, God must have been aware of the anguish that Adam must have felt as he gave names to all the beasts which walked by, everyone of them with a mate. Adam most likely had thought:
"Gordon Bennett! With these guys all paired up, why the heck am I all alone, by myself? I can't marry a hippo, can I?"
When God created Eve by removing a rib from Adam's side under divine amnesia, and brought her to him, he exclaimed, (Wow! This at last) is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh...
God must have smiled as he watched Adam's excitement over his companion who was to be a help meet for him. The four months we spent apart had brought this fact home. I can't help feeling in my spirit that there is something mystical about marriage, the uniting of the souls to become one. When one goes away, as in this case to hospital, there is that gaping hole within that cannot be filled, although trusting in and taking comfort from Jesus Christ does go a long way. It has helped me through this time of separation, giving me hope.

It has also gave me opportunity to reflect on the whole of my life. For example, I can thank the Lord that I was born in a free country, and not under a Communist regime or in a Third World nation where starvation and disease prevails. Neither was I born to grow up to fight in a war, such was the case of my late uncle, who was a prisoner in a Japanese war camp. But having said that, my biggest regret was failing at school, and disastrously so. The school tie culture and myself were no mix. Even back in the sixties it was admitted that Secondary Modern was a polite term for academic trash bin, for those who had failed the eleven-plus exams, and were to pursue a vocational rather than academic course of life, much to the disdain of my parents. Therefore my childhood ideals of becoming a doctor or journalist were never realised, instead I had to suffer humiliation as a dogsbody at a furniture factory for five years, and from 1980 I have been a self-employed labourer (window cleaning) ever since.

However, being self-employed has its credentials, the main one is trusting in the goodness and faithfulness of God, since I don't have a boss or company committee to fall back on when things go wrong. Working for myself also involves setting my own hours, its flexibility setting me free from that awful noise of the factory starting horn or klaxon. On top of this, I have developed good relations with many of my clients, some I have known for the past thirty years. And it through God's grace, I believe, that the business is going from strength to strength.

From being self employed arose my experiences in travel, and I, for one, am surprised that after being such a failure at school, God had given me the ability to travel solo as a backpacker. And the greatest privilege God can bestow on one as such as myself, was to go and visit Israel and Jerusalem in particular. Jerusalem had always been very special to me, it was here where God chose to put his name, and where Jesus Christ died on the cross to atone for our sins, and it was here Jesus rose from the dead physically, the very first person to do so in all of human history. And the first church ever formed took place in Jerusalem. Furthermore, this insignificant looking city is referred to by Jesus as the City of the Great King, a title bestowed on no other location on this planet. I believe it was a wonderful gesture from the Lord to be so familiar with it.

Jerusalem Old City from Jaffa Gate, 1993.

Then that moment when I stood at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in Arizona in 1995, looking up at the night sky as the Colorado River flowed nearby. Never in all my life had I seen such a startling display of stars, totally unseen from the UK. Across the sky, a faint band of the Milky Way could be discerned, which is totally invisible from where I live. This reminded me of when God spoke to Abraham, encouraging him to look up into the night sky and try and count the stars. (Genesis 15:5-6)-
"So shall your descendants be." God promised to the one who, at the time was still childless. When I consider that the latitude of the Grand Canyon isn't much different from where Abraham was standing in the Middle East, what the patriarch and I both must have seen above our heads couldn't have been any different.

I have a Christian friend whose I.Q. is high enough for membership of Mensa, and has a keen interest in astronomy. While he was talking about this to a group we were in, I couldn't help asking him if he had ever looked up at the Southern Cross constellation. He admitted that he never had, for he did not have the experience of long-haul travel. There were times when I stood alone at an Australian beach late at night, looking up at the Southern Cross, along with the Milky Way streaking across the sky. On top of this, I have admired the mangrove trees covering the shoreline, partly submerged at high tide, with just the upper branches above the surface. I have wondered at the diverse tropical and Mediterranean vegetation which cannot flourish naturally here in the UK, and I have also gasped at the marine life through a snorkel mask at the Great Barrier Reef, the Red Sea, and also at Lanzarote.

What can I say for all this? The knowing of how wonderful God really is, both in the beauty of his creation and his love for someone so undeserving as myself. Here am I, a failure at school, a lifelong labourer, of the lower social class, often looked down upon or ignored by others, a wife I adore ill in hospital for weeks on end - yet having known and experienced the love of God, in his creation, among other believers and in my own life experience. I can fully testify that God is for us, and not against us, and whoever shall delight in him shall fulfil the desires of his heart.

Finally, let me say a big thanks to all readers of this page who had prayed for my wife to recover, and has given moral support on this website. As she comes home at last, I will not forget your goodness shown here.

God bless you all. 


  1. Hi Frank,
    God is very much for us and not against us, and you have been given much in your life that many others are not given, including your lovely travel years and your window cleaning business. Praise His lovely name that Alex has been returned home and is recovering. May she regain all her physical strength.
    God bless you both

  2. Praise the Lord for Alex's recovery. Just think how much you've been blessed by being forced to trust God instead of some big corporation for your income. I suspect most people's faith is in the government or the company they work for instead of in God.

  3. What a beautiful post, Frank! Praising God for Alex to be able to return home! May God bless you richly for always being such a shining testimony to Him through not only your writing but through your life, as a devoted Godly husband and follower of Christ.
    Blessings to you both, and prayers for her continued recovery,

  4. Hi Frank! I'm sol glad that Alex is home from the hospital and is recovering. Did the doctors ever figure out what was causing the problems? You and she have my continued prayers for her complete healing. (God can and will make it so). As far as having a high education, personally, I don't think it all that it's cracked up to be. Don't get me wrong, I know we would be in a world of hurt without doctors, lawyers and so forth, but truthfully, I wouldn't want to be one. Just think of the responsibility they have on their hands. I pray every time I have to go to the doctor that God will give him the knowledge and ability to take care of my problem. Of course, that is completely backwards. I should depend on God to heal me before I even go to the doctor. Anyway, that's another post LOL! I tell you what, I have worked in the "workforce" for over 30 years + as a waitress, a secretary and even have some college behind me, but I have truly enjoyed these last years the most I think. I have been my "own boss" doing odd jobs, and cleaning houses. I set my own schedule, and if I want to take a couple of weeks off to go on vacation with my hubby, I just tell my clients in advance and go. They're ready for me when I get home. Of course my jobs are for supplemental income for me, as my hubby gets VA Disability, but just the same, I don't think I would want to go back to a regular job. What I am trying to say is having college to me isn't that important, especially at our age. God Bless,

    P.S. Tell Alex I'm thinking about her and praying for her, will you?