Every decade seems to get bigger and this one certainly was. It began with my ordination as a deacon in 1980 and then as a priest in 1981, I was married to S in 1982 and K was born in 1984, and the third S Clark was born in 1986. I had two curacies, two new parishes, my driving licence was suspended (twice), was a university chaplain, a hospital chaplain (twice), helped found a hospice and co-authored a book. Boy I was on fire!
My Dad died. I was unblocking the sink when the phone call came. He had just dropped dead. It took me at least three years to get over it. I think sons and fathers have a lot of issues, and I rather feel cheated that I had never actually been able to tell him that I did love him. And I did. He was an amazingly resilient man (like so many of his generation) who just got on with playing the cards he had been dealt. And some of them were not great. His family had been devastated by the death of my grandfather, Dad left school became a farm boy and just worked from then on.
He was a bright man.
Read and read and read; and once had a job which was so boring that he used to relieve the ennui by multiplying the six figure numbers on the dials in front of him....in his head.
He read his way through the three local libraries.
Can't help but wonder what might have happened if his intelligence had actually been tapped.
Can't undo the circumstances of life.
Equally well, I was not facing a lot of personal issues...about my marriage, my ministry, the changing world and church. And indeed about myself!!!
Can I also tell you about baby Nicholas, (because it happened about this time of year), on the night of my birthday (17th) ?
I was called up to Modbury Hospital to baptise a baby at 1 a.m. in the morning...when I got there I was told he was dead. It was so sad. Mum held him so caringly, and was surrounded by her lovely husband and both their families.
There is no need to baptise a new baby who has died...the Book of Common Prayer (which I love so much) assures us that children who have died are not damned.
Let's face it they have not sinned! ....but I chose to baptise Nicholas, even though he had been declared dead...it would have been cruel to that broken family to do otherwise.
When I went back in the morning to check on Mum and Dad I was told that Mum had gone to Flinders with the baby!!!!!!!!
At 4 a.m. in the morning the baby was found alive in a side ward. The subsequent coroner's inquest (at which Mum and Dad were pitted against lawyers for the doctors, the hospital and the nurses' union) found that the State run hospital had locked away equipment because it was a Friday night. That equipment may well have observed that Nicholas was in serious distress
At 3 p.m. or so on the Saturday afternoon he died ...perhaps again!
No I don't think that I miraculously revived a dead child; though I love telling the story and watching people make that connection.
No one was really held to account, though perhaps machines are not locked away on Friday afternoons so that hospitals can be neat and tidy.
The Video really came into its own in the 70s. Our first remote control had about 4 metres of cord which you plugged into the VCR....but you could record a week's worth of Days of our Lives when you went away and S (the mother of my children) used to like to watch them one after the other!
I remember our great friend, Ness Davey, who was an ancient lady who really loved our family and was for a while my Churchwarden...probably our first bay sitter. And Beryl, who was the first of the brain tumour deaths I encountered. It was a privilege to visit her day by day in Mary Potter Hospice; but sad .