“Oh no, I’ve given you another excuse to sing.” This said by one of my carers, after she inadvertently mentioned a song title in something she said.
Can I help it if I love singing? These days I only sing a few words, a line at most, but it brings back the memories of singing. I don’t claim to be the greatest singer or actor. But I did love singing and acting in Nailsea Musicals (see Biography of Mike & Mary). ‘The sun has got its hat on’, has never sounded the same as when I sang it. Just as well really.
The production of ‘Lest we forget’ demonstrated why I shouldn’t become a dancer. Amazing bottom wiggles aside, which, let’s face it, did look good in my sailor whites, every other move lacked style.
My rendition of a verse in ‘Bless em all.’ Had to be seen to be fully appreciated. Maybe the fact that I hadn’t understood waist measuring had moved between 1940 and 2000 didn’t help. I measured my hips, 36”. In 1940 waists were measured around your tummy, mine was 40”. When my 1940’s uniform arrived with a 36” waist, it wouldn’t fit over my 40” inch belly. Even after Mary moved the button and I breathed in; tears were in my eyes the whole of the song. Perhaps I looked more emotional, maybe I had a higher register, or was I just in great discomfort.
I relive my glory days as a singer every time I am hoisted now with a line from ‘Up, up and away.’ Or the beat box sound of Thunderbirds. I shan’t tell you what I sing when I use the bedpan in the morning. I’m sure your imagination can fill in the sounds and all the other senses.
People who meet me tend to say what a ‘happy chap’ I am. That’s before I start singing. Maybe I could change that if I sang a few choruses to them. It could be that the silly grin I often have plastered on my face, or my daft sense of humour gives people this idea. But I am more than happy. I have talked about this before in my blog “How can it be OK?” Happiness is about what happens to you. I do have lots of good things to be grateful for. But I could also focus on the negative limitations. I don’t do that, I find an inner joy, because joy is not reliant on events and situations. Joy comes from within. My joy and my peace comes from knowing God. 38 years ago, I had my eyes opened and my life felt like it started again. That is the real reason I am such a ‘happy chap.’
My carers often say that spending time with me cheers them up, because I am very positive and upbeat. What they are experiencing is the joy and peace I know from God. I can be as grouchy and as much of a pain as anyone else. I am by no means perfect. But despite my imperfection, even though I fail, God never does. He shines out even on my darkest days.
I want to just say a quick aside about religion. I am not religious. I don’t follow a set of rules. There is not a list of things I must achieve for God to love me. If you think there is, then think again. That is a legalistic way of looking at God. It makes God into a big bad distant figure in the sky. A sort of white bearded disciplinarian, waiting to punish us for getting it all wrong. That is not the God I know. That is not the God I met 38 years ago through Jesus. God is a loving, forgiving father, a father more loving and caring than any earthly father or mother.
Back to my wonderful singing. When I was a child, I used to sing a duet with my sister ‘Come my dear Franz, just one more dance.” A Harry Belafonte song. Very odd to sing to your sister, although I was too young to understand what it was about. We were quite a musical family, I hesitate to say Von Trappe, because that would be totally untrue. My Granma used to sing on stage at the local Church social club. My mum sang at Church but was always very nervous and sang quietly. On long car journeys my mum and dad sang duets and sometimes all five of us children joined in. ‘Puff the magic dragon’ sounds amazing sung by seven voices in an estate car on a motorway.
You’re probably thinking, “where can I get to hear this incredible voice?” That’s just rude, if you weren’t thinking that. Well I’m sorry to tell you I no longer sing on stage, although there are videos that change hands for incredible amounts of money, I think the last sold for…. Wait they don’t sell at all. But I do still occasionally sing in public. I have been known to burst out in song with the odd line as we are wheeling along Wellington High St. What a treat you are in for if you pass us by. It’s a shame you’ll miss the infamous bottom wiggling from ‘Lest we forget.’ You just need to track down a video from Nailsea Musicals. They are as rare as hens’ teeth.
Being limited and long term ill doesn’t have to make you miserable. Find something to hold onto. Focus on what is good. Find that inner peace and joy. I would obviously say seek God and he will be found.
Check out Alpha www.alpha.org it’s a way to explore Christianity.