The Gift of Life

Spring 2010 #2

There is on the platform of Mossvale Railway Station a heated and capacious waiting room, a welcome refuge against the biting cold night air which lingers on from winter, seemingly unaware of the recent arrival of spring. My fellow passengers hiding from tonight’s lurking chill are an engaging but vaguely eccentric Catholic priest, and a surly, unkempt man who seems intent on discussing the macabre details of a recent local murder. The former, a mild-mannered man, knows history and language; he must be widely read, he occasionally conducts the Latin mass in spite of his bishop, and comments that he would never offer his parishioners advice on contraception because, and I quote, “I know bugger all about that”. The latter actually has no ticket, and, perhaps thankfully, won’t be joining the train!  More than thirty years ago I once sought shelter in this very same room, when several friends and I rode push bikes many miles through torrential rain; arriving here at the end of some long escapade chilled to the bone. In those days there was an open fire burning, a fact which now seems as incredible, and just as romantic, as the weekend I have just spent. I can scarcely believe the joy that my family and I have shared together in the last few days!

It’s now 2am, and I am rattling through the pitch black NSW Highlands on a homeward bound train; on the last leg of an epic journey to see my young daughter married. Five days traveling; with some thirty hours spent on seven trains, four busses, three taxis; and with the most helpful young man and his box trailer late one night.

The role of marriage celebrant is without any doubt one of the real privileges of my life; and to have that responsibility in my own children’s lives is an extraordinary honour. Three of our six are now married, our son and two of our daughters, and I have had a part to play in each of the weddings. To lead your own through the rites of the marriage service, and to share in these great truths with family and friends, are joys that simply defy description.

The logistics of the week were certainly complex. B4 easily won the toss over good old Bugger, (the manual wheel chair) which immediately ruled out traveling by car with my Favourite Wife. I needed to make my own way to the city, and then to the rehearsal and wedding. I engaged in some serious over-thinking weeks prior to the event by pre-recording the entire ceremony in a fit of misplaced apprehension, just in case my voice wasn’t up to the task. A generous carer was engaged to help us get our special little girl to the event after a few nights in respite. Then there was threatening weather; a rehearsal conducted in a frozen gale on an exposed plateaux a couple of hundred feet above sea level.  And the emotional challenge of greeting friends, cousins, parents and in-laws from the seat of a power-chair reared its ugly head once again. But miraculously the day itself was beyond perfect! We survived our emotions, our nerves, and our complex dealings with one another as the tension built. The weather was stunning, the girls gorgeous, the men handsome … and we did it!

At 3.00am I am riding the train home with a sense of deep satisfaction; a calm delight in having played my part in life. This is a time of night that I occasionally dread, but this particular night is rich and I feel enormously fulfilled. To contribute means more to me than anything. My greatest fear is not losing any particular physical function, rather it would be losing the ability and opportunity of adding to the worlds of those that I know and love .

Eclipsing whatever value qualities such as perseverance or courage might have is the sheer tenacity of life itself. The gift of life is so resilient, so assertive, that given a glimpse of opportunity it must grow. More, it thrives!


6 thoughts on “The Gift of Life

  1. Ann

    Congratulations, Roderick, on being a part in another wedding ceremony with your third married child. I am so glad you went ahead and wrote your post when you did. It concerned me not to see your blog this morning in my “in-box”.

    The desire to be a part of the lives of your family and loved ones rather than an on-looker is one I share. In fact, having this disease opened up a venue for talking about more weighty subjects than ever before with many people, so now that I have “a voice”, losing it altogether seems like a greater loss.

    Thank you for sharing another slice (and an important one) of your life with us!


  2. Kathleen Powell

    What an interesting and uplifting read, Roderick.Thank you for that special glimpse into your family life and congratulations on achieving such a wonderful result on your daughter’s special day.

  3. Milton Scaysbrook

    Hi Rod
    what a blessing to be able to perform the wedding for your little girl . Keep up sending us these gems of life.

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