My earliest memory of my journey with spirituality started when I was about six. We lived in Singapore and on some Sundays my Dad would drop my little sister and I off at the Sunday School. I suspect that my mum and dad were after a little free time to themselves. My little sister is four years younger than me but I have a vague memory that she and I stayed together.
I remember that we would have these little books in which we got to stick stamps of Jesus in. I really liked the pictures. They were usually related to the stories that they taught us like the Good Samaritan. This was my favourite part of the Sunday School Class. That is probably why it is the only part that I remember.
When I was in the second year infants in Singapore, I was selected to be one of the narrators in the school nativity play. I loved, loved doing this! In those days, I had a incredible memory and I memorized not only my part but also everyone else’s. We have a tape that my dad made that Christmas when my maternal grandparents came out to visit us in Singapore and a lot of the tape has me reciting all of the narration. I still remember a lot of that narration. It feels as familiar as a glove.
I can still remember the wonderful feeling that I used to get every time we rehearsed and when we gave the performance. It wasn’t just the feeling of accomplishment that you get as you put on a play for parents, it was something else that I felt. It felt warm and safe.
In October 1968, we went back to England and after living with my grandparents in Southampton, we moved into our house in Fareham in January 1969. Whilst living with my paternal grandparents, my grandfather taught me how to pray. I used to say this prayer every night before I went to sleep for years.
On my 8th birthday – May 1969 – my friend and I went down Fareham Park Road to a little church down on Gudgeheath Lane. I have just looked this Church up on the internet and it is the Hill Park Baptist Church. I have often wondered which religion it was and suspected that it was either a branch of the Baptist Church or some sort of Pentecostal Church.
I really enjoyed going to this church. I loved to sing the songs about Jesus and to hear the stories from the Bible. I went regularly and even took my little sister along. When I think how old I was and how little my sister was, I marvel at how my mum and dad would let me look after her and walk down Fareham Park Road and take her to church! Not something that I would let my children do when they were small. The world was a much safer place in those days.
I remember the Church giving me and my sister a Christmas present one year. Mine was a circular pink plastic box with a clear lid. Inside were lots of tiny beads of all sorts of different colors for threading. The lid swiveled and a little vent would open up to access the beads. I loved this gift and cherished it for a few years.
After a few months, I was invited to go to their Tuesday night meetings in downtown Fareham. We were always picked up on a coach at Fareham Park Road just outside Coppice Way which drove us down to the hall. I went alone or with my friends. My little sister was too young for this adventure. I went for a little while although I didn’t feel as comfortable in this church service as I did at the Sunday School. I didn’t like the feeling that I had when people ‘spoke in tongues’.
What added to that uncomfortable feeling was the man with one arm. It wasn’t his one arm that frightened me, it was the way that he paid too much attention to me and got into my personal space. After awhile, I told my mum that I didn’t want to go to the Tuesdays meetings anymore and soon after, I stopped going to the church on Sundays. The man was very creepy and I didn’t want to be around him.
Being christened in the Church of England, I took myself off to the Sunday Services at St. Columbia Church at the corner of Hillson Drive and Highlands Road when I was about fourteen. I wish that I could say that it was my spiritual interest that took me there, but it was a good looking boy from school that was in the choir. Just to get a glimpse at this young man entering the church and then singing was enough to get me there each Sunday. Sometimes a friend came with me. She was interested in taking confirmation classes, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing that. I didn’t want that type of commitment. I was familiar with the church service, but I had my own ideas. I didn’t feel that what they taught made sense to me. I didn’t necessarily think it was bad, it just seemed too mysterious and unclear. Spiritually, I felt at an impasse. After about eight months, I stopped attending the services at St. Columbia.
As life got more complicated in my teens and I grew very unhappy and depressed, I prayed often and even branched out from the set prayer that my Grandfather had taught me. I cried out to God to help me, to give me strength and to help me understand the chaos that surrounded me.
Then one day, He found me and I began receiving the answers that I had needed. It was the day that the lady that I babysat for asked my friend and I to keep two young men company at her house …..
Saturday had a twist in store for me in more ways than one. I had planned to do so much that day, but as always my ‘To Do’ list is adventurous and far exceeds the hours and energy available. After exploring a new venue for dinner with friends up in Brigham City, I decided to quickly go shopping so I was ready for the coming week.
I zoomed around the store picking up the items on my shopping list, pleased that I could still walk fast and that I hadn’t over eaten at our meal. I was hoping that I would be able to catch up with the things that I hadn’t done on my list due to coming to a complete halt after lunch. I arrived home about 8:15 p.m. and unloaded the shopping, putting the first load on top of the freezer in the garage. I could get it into the house in two trips. I waited patiently as the front of the garage door closed. If my dog got out of the house, I didn’t want her to escape through that garage door. Then I opened the door into our little courtyard or patio, climbed the three steps with the first load of shopping and plonked it on the counter in the kitchen.
Before I could turn around, the dog had gone out the back door. ‘She must need to go out,’ I ruminated. Then I realized I that I hadn’t pushed the garage door shut. “Oh no!” I rushed out the back door as I didn’t want the dog to go to the loo in the garage.
“Where did the steps go?“ I mused as my feet met air. ‘Time seems to have slowed down,’ I continued.
But all too soon, I met the concrete with a thud and the pain shot up through my body. ‘How stupid!” My mind screamed. I couldn’t get up and I felt like I was going to pass out.
I must have screamed when I landed as my husband came running out. “I’m hurt!” I exclaimed. I couldn’t get up. He tried to help me but I couldn’t put any weight on my feet. I felt waves of nausea ripple over me and I became very light headed.
Eventually, although I don’t remember exactly how, my husband was able to help me inside to the reclining chair and put some ice on my right foot which hurt the most. I’m grimacing in pain but worried about the food that I had left in the garage and the kitchen that could go off in the heat. My husband is adamant that we are going to the Emergency Room. I’m concerned that even though I’m in pain, no-one will believe me and worried about the huge bill that it will generate. However, the pain and my husband’s insistence won the day and we manage to get me into the car. I didn’t have the ability to calm my husband’s anxiety as I was focusing on controlling my pain by trying to relax. I nearly had a panic attack on the way to the car and needed to breathe as best I could on the trip to the hospital.
Once we got to ER, my husband pulled up and went to get a wheelchair. A member of the hospital staff helped him and came out with him to get me into the chair. She wheeled me in to get me registered and to go to triage whilst my husband parked the car.
About twenty minutes later, we are admitted to a room. I’m really glad that they weren’t too busy. Everyone was super nice. My swollen ankles and feet showed them that I was telling the truth even though I was able to mask the pain somewhat. I had a series of x-rays and fortunately for me it turned out that I had not broken anything. Just a sprained left ankle, a sprained right foot and a slightly sprained wrist. I was given a large dosage of ibuprofen for the pain and a brace for my left ankle.
Taking my feet off the level bed to try and stand up to have lessons on the crutches took my pain back up to a seven from a four or five. A constant throb to excruciating stabs. Training would have to wait until I was at home. I could look up some videos on YouTube. My husband went to get the car.
It was pretty tricky trying to get back into that wheel chair again. This time with very little help, the inability to put any weight or pressure on my right foot, the raging pain as the blood rushed down to my feet again, and having to get from the elevated bed to the low chair. I am so glad that I didn’t fall again or twist my left ankle further as I attempted to wheedle myself into the right position to lower myself into that chair. The young lady who was going to give me lessons on the crutches didn’t really know how to help me into this chair. Nor did she know how to get me into the car. But she was excellent at pushing me from the room and out of the hospital to the car! My husband took over and got the wheelchair almost adjacent to the passenger seat and I was able to use my arms to pull myself over to the seat.
As we drove back home, the Ibuprofen kicked in and the pain dropped to a more manageable level. I am so thankful to the wonderful staff at the hospital, to my wonderful husband who cares so much, and to wonderful medicine and technology. I am thankful that I was wearing a little backpack on my back when I fell which cushioned my back and hips. I am thankful that I didn’t break any bones and that I didn’t live alone. I would still be on that concrete patio right now, unable to get up.
I became even more sensitive to the needs of others who are confined to wheelchairs for various reasons or have artificial limbs and wonder how they manage? I reflected on their strength and courage to move forwards in their lives and to become as independent as they can.
I got used to the crutches as soon as we got home. I wanted to lay down upstairs rather than lay on the couch. The stairs seemed daunting and I wasn’t that good with the crutches. So I relied on skills that I learned many years ago and, once I got my husband to lower me onto the stairs, I turned around and crawled up those stairs. Getting up again when I got to the top was another difficult maneuver and with the help of my husband and one of those crutches I was able to get up.
By the time I got to lay down in bed it was about 1 a.m. Then my husband and I needed to decompress. I think I fell asleep about 2:30 a.m. I had been awake twenty and a half hours. I wouldn’t recommend trying to walk on air unless you have as much faith in the Saviour as Peter had when he began walking on water.
Today, I am able to put a little more weight on my right foot; I haven’t been downstairs for three days as I can’t manage them yet. I’m still icing the swelling. The beauty of working remotely is coming into its own as I can hobble to my desk from the bedroom on my crutches. Some kind friends have visited and bought in dinner or yummy treats; my daughter and grandchildren came to visit and brought me little ‘get well’ drawings, lemon bars and some lovely roses to look at as I lay in bed; and I’ve received multiple texts of support and love. All in all I’m on the up and up. My husband is super sweet and attentive although I’m probably driving him crazy with how much water I like to drink! Now to just have a shower ….. that would be soooo nice!