Tuesday, December 26, 2006

12 Days of Christmas

Extremely funny - sent by my sister-in-law Meenu

Monday, December 11, 2006

Alfred J Brown (21 Jan, 1919 - 21 Oct, 2006)

Some of you will have noticed a distinct lack of postings in recent weeks. This is because I've been struggling to come to terms with the passing of my Grandad and struggling to find the courage to attempt to write something that will do him justice.

I cannot say that I've come to terms with losing him nor can I say that I've found the right words to express who he was (or even who he was to me). In fact I'm writing this as I go, no plan, no direction but the time had come where I felt he deserved better from me, he had a big impact on my life and left just as I was really getting to know him and only a few short months after the twins had arrived.

"Alf" to many but "Grandad" to most of the people that I ever heard talk about him. He was an icon to all those that met him, full of life, always a smile and a cheerful demeanour, witty and sometimes a bit cheeky, occasionally cynical but never scathing; when all said and done he was a gentleman, a man of great integrity and unequivocal quality.

When I was young Grandma and Grandad were always a bit scary. It was without much enthusiasm that my sister and I would embark on a visit with my parents. Grandma was always very strict and never really seemed to appreciate or embrace my wit and sense of humour (but then looking back, who would have seen the funny side of a plate of boiled vegetables flicked meticulously around the kitchen). Sadly Grandma passed away in 1989 when I was travelling.

Equally Grandad didn't seem like much fun either in my early years, he wore a brown suit (even on the beach apparently) and was a civil servant (which seemed very boring to me), he did teach me to play chess though and out of the hundreds of games we played I think I managed one draw – sharp as a razor and gave no ground on that front – a good lesson, although I cried a lot.

It was at one of my sister's weddings (Yes I only have one sister - you'll work it out!) in Germany that I really came to appreciate what a legend of a man Grandad was. I shall save that story for another time, as that is a story in its own right, but suffice to say I found in him a firm friend, ally, comrade and fellow renegade.

What I'd failed to see all these years was that he was one of "us", he was a good laugh, he liked a drink, he liked to dance, he loved to party, he wasn't infallible (as some would have us believe our elders are) and he certainly wasn't the run of the mill “given up on life” OAP (old age pensioner) that you so often see. Grandad he was a live wire and got out of life as much as he could.

Grandad came to visit me several times in Malaysia, he came to my wedding in Thailand too (where he stole the show of course). In fact he had a special relationship with "Malaya", as he insisted on calling it, partly because that's what it was called when he was here after the war and also because he knew he'd always get a reaction out of someone - usually me.

He was based in Butterworth soon after the end of WW2 distributing food and basically helping the country get back on its feet. He loved it and openly admitted that when the time came he really didn't want to go home.

Another little anecdote about his life; he and Grandma were taking a European cycling tour during their early married life. Unfortunately the date was 1939 and they found themselves in Germany when war was declared. After a very rapid retreat they found themselves back in England very soon afterwards – unscathed I’m pleased to say.

Despite the horrors of the war, Grandad still spoke very highly of the German people that he met on that trip and even managed to meet up with some of them a few years ago. It seems almost poetic that I moved to "Malaya" and Angela settled in Germany.

Another little fact that the vicar pointed out at the service; Grandad took up sailing at the age of 77! How cool is that! Here he is sailing his yacht "Trilby" that he kept at Burnham on Crouch.

I could go on an on about Grandad and I know that those of you that knew him would not be in the slightest bit bored but for now I'll leave you to smile at the photos and celebrate his life with me - a man that meant so much to many - Grandad we love you and miss you so much.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Can World's Strongest Dad

[From Sports Illustrated, By Rick Reilly]
I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay For their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots. But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in Marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a Wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and Pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.

Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back Mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. On a bike. Makes Taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?

And what has Rick done for his father? Not much--except save his life.
This love story began in Winchester , Mass. , 43 years ago, when Rick Was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him Brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.

"He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life;'' Dick says doctors told him And his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. ``Put him in an Institution.''
But the Hoyts weren't buying it. They noticed the way Rick's eyes Followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the Engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was Anything to help the boy communicate. ``No way,'' Dick says he was told. ``There's nothing going on in his brain.''
"Tell him a joke,'' Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a Lot was going on in his brain. Rigged up with a computer that allowed Him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his Head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? ``Go Bruins!'' And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the School organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, ``Dad, I want To do that.''

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described ``porker'' who never ran More than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he Tried. ``Then it was me who was handicapped,'' Dick says. ``I was sore For two weeks.''
That day changed Rick's life. ``Dad,'' he typed, ``when we were running, It felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!''

And that sentence changed Dick's life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly Shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

``No way,'' Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren't quite a Single runner, and they weren't quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few Years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then They found a way to get into the race Officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the Qualifying time for Boston the following year.

Then somebody said, ``Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?''
How's a guy who never learned to swim and hadn't ridden a bike since he was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick Tried.
Now they've done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii . It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud Getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you Think?

Hey, Dick, why not see how you'd do on your own? ``No way,'' he says. Dick does it purely for ``the awesome feeling'' he gets seeing Rick with A cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together.

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best Time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992--only 35 minutes off the world Record, which, in case you don't keep track of these things, happens to Be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the Time.

``No question about it,'' Rick types. ``My dad is the Father of the Century.''
And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a Mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries Was 95% clogged. ``If you hadn't been in such great shape,'' One doctor told him, ``you probably would've died 15 years ago.'' So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other's life.

Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass. , always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father's Day.
That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.

``The thing I'd most like,'' Rick types, ``is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once.''

Double-Click on the "PLAY" button

Simon says "Are these guys amazing or what? Have the patience to watch video, it will change your outlook on the day and probably your life - it will certainly bring a tear to your eye".