Saturday, 2 May 2020

Chapter Twenty-Two

I have lost everything in my life but I still have my smile and nobody is going to take that away from me – Richard

Rebekah touched so many lives, even though I am writing this book three years after she left us people are still smiling because of the thirty-four years she spent with us. She touched my life so much, perhaps more than any other.

There was a time when being retired for me meant sitting about doing nothing beyond writing books nobody would every read. Maureen was for ever telling me I needed to find an interest outside the house, that I should become a volunteer and do something. No thanks, I was perfectly happy doing what I was doing. Nothing !

Then Beck's kidney started to fail and I found myself spending every day with her. I went for a period of four weeks where I was either driving her to a clinic appointment or going to visit her in hospital. She would get into my car and say: Dad I don't mind if you play your music. I am a great fan of classical music, not so Rebekah. Well tough Beck, I am going to play it no matter if you like it or not.

I have on my phone many of the text messages Beck would send me. They usually started: Sorry to be a pain Dad but............. Beck, you never could be a pain – I love you so much.

Sitting about the house doing nothing, that's a distant memory now. Beck look what your Smile has done to me !

Councillor David Ashford. I am a member of our local council. On 22nd October 2019 I became an Independent Councillor representing Fairways Ward. I serve on The Planning and Environment Committee, The Community Committee and -WAIT FOR IT- The Parking Sub Committee.

Chairman David Ashford. I am Chairman of Thames Valley Police Community Forum for West Bletchley.

On Radio CRMK an international internet station I am The Geriatric DJ broadcasting two hours of music first thing in the morning Monday to Friday.

As part of an organisation Worktree I go into schools once or twice a week helping teenagers make career and lifestyle choices.

I am part of a beautiful family Dremsai where I work with homeless rough-sleeping friends in our Lunch Of Love. The message at the top of this chapter was written by one of my homeless friends. Dremasai is more than our Saturday Lunch Of Love, I am involved in its blood and organ donation programme. Here I am one of its Thursday celebrations.

Honouring Rebekah's wish to support families with a child sick in hospital friends and I send cards of love to Ronald McDonald Houses in not only Britain but around the world.

We send our Smile Cards to patients, relatives and all staff in as many hospitals as we can.

We have blood donor projects running in schools, with our police and within ethnic minority groups.

I am trying to support drug addicts build new lives. Two medical centres want me to work with them.

I have, in my own small way, been campaigning against what I call climate cowboys.

I am joining The Prison Reform Trust.

I am involved with our local Food Bank and visit my local distribution point every Friday.

Working with my fellow radio presenters we twinned the studio toilet with a village in Uganda giving the basic sanitation of a toilet to a family. I have ambitions to twin many more toilets and give support to more families.
The music I play on the radio sponsors Piggie Alfie at Curly Tails.

I have stood twice for election to the board of governors at University Hospital Milton Keynes, I did not win ! The last election I lost by just ten votes. I full intend to stand again and to win a seat on the board.

As I write these words we are in lock down as the world fights Corona Virus. Some of these projects are on hold but some are operating in slightly different ways. Once lock down is lifted and a new form of normality I fully intend to take my darling daughter's Smile back into these and other areas.

Spike Milligan the comedian wrote this poem:

Smiling is infectious
You can catch it like the flu
When someone smiled at me today
I started smiling too
I walked around the corner
And someone saw me grin
When he smiled I realised
I had passed it on to him
I thought about the smile
And then realised its worth
A single smile like mine
Could travel round the earth
So if you feel a smile begin
Don’t leave it undetected
Start an epidemic
And get the world infected.
I have used those words so many times. Writing in the global pandemic I have not been using the poem, is it politically correct ? No matter, these are powerful and beautiful words.

So Rebekah look what you have done to me ! No more sitting about doing nothing. My darling daughter there are not enough hours in the day for me to share the smiles you have given to me.

I love you.


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