Category Archives: Special

Shoulder to Shoulder to Day: Day One – The Other Side of the Line

Today (May 22) marks the beginning of a new phase of treatment for our friend Emma Day, who blogs at Crazy With Twins and tweets as @crazywithtwins . A further strike against cancer (she has already had surgery – see her blog) involves the internal  use of radioactive iodine. This in turn means that she will be emitting radiation from her body that is dangerous to others, especially small children. As a result, she will be, as it were, on ‘the wrong side of the line’ from her family – and unable to reach out and cuddle her beloved baby girl twins for over thirty days!

A series of blog posts from those of us who know Emma – and her husband and family – via the blogging community will accompany Emma on this journey, under the general heading ‘Shoulder to Shoulder to Day’. I have the honour to open this, along with Victoria at Verily, Victoria Vocalises.

Now, I know Emma has a fascination with history – when it comes alive in true stories from times past. So, for encouragement to her – and to us all – I’m going to recount an occasion when somebody else – well, two people, in fact – found themselves on ‘the wrong side of the line’ in another sense, and how it resulted in a wonderful outcome – just as we’re all hoping for a great success from this medically and psychologically gruelling treatment that Emma is undergoing!

The year was 1814. The Anglo-American War of 1812 had been going for – yes, you’ve got it right – two years. (And a bit.) And on the evening of September 13, several British ships lay at anchor in Chesapeake Bay, just off the Atlantic Ocean, under the command of Admiral Cochrane. Shortly before, a noted resident of Upper Marlborough, Maryland, a Dr William Beanes, had been taken prisoner by the British, and sent to the flagship.

Meantime, in Baltimore, a young lawyer, Francis Scott Key, the son of an American officer and a friend of the old doctor, heard about the imprisonment. Bravely, he went to the admiral to plead the cause of his friend. Evidently he was received honourably, but the British were about to attack Fort McHenry, and so the pair were not immediately allowed to go!

Now comes the exciting part! All through the night, the British kept up a bombardment of rockets and fire-bombs, such as there were in those days. The light of each explosion briefly lit up the scene, showing the flag flying over the fort. And then in the morning, as the Sun rose from across the Atlantic, the scene was incredible. For there, above the fort, unfurling gently in the morning breeze, just where it had been on the previous evening, so sublimely indifferent to the night’s conflict, still in place, was the flag now known the world over as the ‘Stars and Stripes’. The British must have been hard put not to be awe-stricken!

Now, I don’t always agree with everything said and done by ‘Uncle Sam’ – and of course, had I been there as an Englishman, all those years ago, I would have been among the enemy! But, had I been young Francis Key, I think, at that moment, I would have been proud to be an American! For that young lawyer, the sight inspired the words of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ – afterwards set to music and finally adopted as the national anthem of the USA in 1931. He gave the genre of national anthems something special – but he did something else; he inspired those around him – as Emma has done, too.

The Star-Spangled Banner

O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Francis Scott Key (1779 – 1843)

Set to music already well-known (written by an Englishman!)

John Stafford Smith (1750 -1836)

Here is a link to a video of this song being sung.

To Emma, we salute you and wish you well. And to all of you, thank you for reading.
Victoria and I now happily pass the baton to Suzanne at 3 Children and It for Day Two.

Shoulder to Shoulder to Day
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It only remains to say that no-one is excluded from giving support; please leave comments on any of the host blogs as they appear, and feel free to write your own post, too. Grab the code (above) for the pretty badge, and link up by clicking on the link below, or at Victoria’s blog.  Thanks again!

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I am also linking this post to Emma’s meme ‘Wednesday Words’ as I find the words of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ so powerful and moving.

Wednesday Words
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In Memory of Matilda Mae

Over the last few days, the blogging community has been rocked and stunned. We have struggled to come to terms with a message put out on Twitter, announcing the ‘cot death’ of a baby girl, on the 2nd Feb 2013: Matilda Mae, the daughter of Jenny (@Edspire) and her husband David.

I, for one, have found my thoughts and feelings going round in an endless whirl; firstly, the struggle to accept the awful truth, then the sense of grief as the plight of the affected family bears in. After this, more happily, the incredible warmth of love and empathy in such a sorrow, as the news has touched so many hearts. I count it an honour to be associated with this.

I have tried to put all this into a poem. The metre of the verses was inspired by the tune sung to the Welsh song ‘Myfanwy’ composed by Joseph Parry (1841 – 1903) of which I am very fond. You can listen to it here.

We who, till now had never known you,
Are taking each the other’s hand;
Desiring to extend compassion
Yet struggling here to understand:
Of each who took to heart the story
Of how you left us on that day
The heart and mind, with ties that bind
You’ve drawn so close, Matilda Mae!

We who would never wish such sadness
Should fall on any family,
But rather, seek to share the gladness
A growing, happy child to see –
A rainbow through our hearts is streaming
Sorrow, for those who feel such pain –
And yet, for you, the sky is blue!
In this, we take our strength again.

Your absence in the body deeply moving
So sharp for one your mother and your nurse!
Yet now the power of love we’re proving
Strongest in all the universe!
The joy of Paradise receiving
Is yours, surpassing brightest day –
Yet now, as torn, for those who mourn
You’ve joined our hearts, Matilda Mae!

With best wishes for Matilda Mae’s family. Thank you for reading this.


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A Short Message From the Heart

This will be, for me, an unusual post. Those of you who know me here, and on Twitter, know that I’ll readily join in the round of joking and banter. But there is a time to be serious. Yes, there really is. Now, I’d like to say that, as a Christian, I have tended to refrain from posting anything on here that might be interpreted as ‘pushing religion down people’s throats’ and I would rather try to set out something by way of humility and compassion than by exposition of doctrine. I am concious of measuring up very poorly.

But tonight is different; Liska over at New Mum Online, just here, has made an appeal that I could not ignore. It’s about the plight of a blogger called Kerry, aka Multiple Mummy. I don’t know her really, myself, but those who do speak of a kind, compassionate woman with a big heart. Now, at the end of July this year, Kerry suffered a brain haemorrhage. We now gather that her progress since has been somewhat erratic.

Hence the direct appeal from Liska, for prayer.

I’d just like to say that I have prayed to the God in whom I believe and trust, about Kerry, and I will continue to do so; that God may be pleased to spare her life, and restore her to her loving husband and family – and also that her husband, children, extended family, and friends might be aware of genuine comfort, including the concern of a great many people, at this very agonising time.

With best wishes to you all. Thank you.

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