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Getting to know you – Canon John Redford

Canon John Redford

Canon John Redford

Father John passed away on November 6th 2013.

Our loss is heavens gain.

R.I.P. Father John,

I wish I had met you in better circumstances, and earlier in my life.

You will be missed.

‘O God, who raised up Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman to be a model of those who seek for the truth and find it in full communion with the Catholic Church, graciously grant as a sign of his full sanctity the miraculous healing of Canon John Redford, who followed the same spiritual path, in order that he may continue his work of teaching and writing for your glory, who live and reign for ever and ever, Amen.’

In my entry
Still here – Another breath of life,

I touched upon my short stay in hospital due to being unable to breathe, and a bit about my treatment in there.
What I didn’t go into detail about, was my time on the ward, and some of the folks on it.

When I finally got moved from A&E to the Acute Medical Unit (about 11.00am in the morning , after a night on a trolley), there were a few characters already in residence, including one poor old man who didn’t seem to know or care where he was, having a conversation with the whole of the ward about his house and how who ever Henry was wasn’t coming anywhere near it, and amongst the other patients, an elderly gentleman in the bed next door to me, who introduced himself as Cecil, who was in for a suspected heart attack, which happily for him turned out to be a case of severe indigestion.

As most of my first day was spent either asleep or on a nebuliser to clear my lungs, I didn’t really take much notice, or have much of a chat with Cecil, apart from wishing him all the best when he checked out later that evening, and to wonder who was going to be next through the door and in to the bed to replace him.
This turned out to be a rather tall, loud, jocular,elderly, but very well spoken man, who looked and sounded like he was one of those people you either liked instantly or couldn’t stand.
He came over and loudly installed himself in to the bed, proclaiming that he “wouldn’t be long, he was only in for a “ procedure “ and that he should be out of the way by tomorrow “

There was something about this man, the way he spoke and what he was saying that made me pay attention, and instinctively I knew here was a fellow I could get on with.
He ( unprompted) told me that he was in for an “ exploratory procedure “ and had been recommended by a friend who thought he looked unwell, to go and see his doctor, who had  immediately sent him to hospital for tests for suspected pancreatic cancer, possibly terminal, and this operation was to see if it was operable.
He was quite accepting of his possible fate, saying that he was 76, he had a good life and that if it was his time then so be it.

As we were swapping our hospital stories, I realised that we hadn’t been introduced so I asked him his name, to which he replied “ John… John Redford, but you can call me Father John”
Ahh , a man of the cloth and a Roman Catholic to boot, God was indeed on my side, and had sent me my very own direct contact if things went wrong!

As we chatted, Fr. John told me all about where he had worked, what he had done earlier in life and that he was now working at a place called the Maryvale Institute, which is an International Catholic Distance-Learning College for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education, and that he was a Course Director there.
His whole demeanour throughout the conversation was cheery, with no sense of forboding from him as he told me about events leading up to his admission in to hospital, and about of his life’s work as a servant of God.
As we were chatting away, I saw the familiar dog collar of another priest, and assumed this was a visitor for Fr. John.

Well I was half right and half wrong, as it turned out that it was the hospital R.C. chaplain, and that he had come to see Fr. John and give him a blessing before his operation.
He was also our parish priest, a gentleman called Fr. Michael Ho, originally from Vietnam, a very inspiring man and also the priest that had conducted my Mum’s funeral.
He recognised me instantly, and though very surprised, greeted me with the words “ What are you doing here ? “

Resisting all impulses to give a silly answer, I gave him a quick resumee about the nights drama, and in return he gave me a blessing for which although I’m not really a “ practising “ catholic, I was very grateful to receive, before turning back to his original purpose of visiting Fr. John.
As they pulled the curtains round Fr. Johns’ bed for a modicum of privacy, I thought I would google Maryvale and find out a little bit more about “ Father “ John.

It turns out that “ Father “ John is actually The Very Reverend CANON John Redford ( which is considerably better than just a priest ) and that this Very Reverend gent was also a highly educated man, and an expert in his field, having published many books on his chosen subject.

After his blessing, and Fr. Michael had gone, we chatted some more before settling in for a night of what loosely could be termed sleep. The A.M.U. is like a short term general sorting ward where patients are put to get them out of A&E before they go on the ward proper, and as such is a VERY busy place , with patients coming in and going out to other wards ( or dying ) at all times of the day and night. The lights are on 24 hours, doors bang all the time, and in general it’s not a very relaxing place to be.

However, the next morning, we both awoke, one of us obviously more trepidacious than the other, and after wishing Fr. John good luck he was put under and  taken down to the operating theatre. When I awoke a few hours later, all his stuff was gone, and a new patient was occupying his bed…. ” How is  Fr. John? ” I asked nervously, just in case, you know…. ” Oh he’s ok said the nurse, we just moved him to another space because this one has got equipment that the other bed hasn’t got “

Phew.. that’s a relief, so I went over to see how he was getting on. When I got to his bed, there was a plethora of relegious folk there, Priests and Nuns, so I quickly asked him how he was,wished him all the best and told him I hoped his results were favourable. We said our goodbyes and that was it, off he went back home, off I went to my hospital bed for a few more days.

Because of the rush of Christmas, New Year and just living in general, whilst not completely forgetting about Fr. John, I had neglected to remember him, and for some reason today I thought I would have a look on the Maryvale website to check up and see if I could find out how he was.

To my utter shock and horror I was greeted by these words :

Novena Prayer to Blessed John Henry Newman for the Healing of Canon John Redford
Towards the end of last year, the seriousness of the physical condition of Canon John Redford was made known. He is suffering from an inoperable cancer of the pancreas, which the best medical opinion has informed us, if untreated, leads to death in six months, and if treated by chemotherapy would extend his life possibly for another six months.

The words in bold jumped out of the page at me, and I’ve been knocked bowlegged by this news.

Although I only had the pleasure of his company for a relatively short time, I liked this gentle old man immensely and I feel full of sorrow and regrets.
Sorrow for him, that he only has a short time left on this world, regrets that I didn’t meet him earlier, or keep in contact with him when I could have.
Fr. John himself would no doubt laugh at me, and tell me not to worry, he’s had a good life, we all have to go sooner or later,and if the Lord wants me to be with him sooner, then so be it.
The rest of the text follows on:

We would like to invite all who those wish to participate to pray for the healing of Fr John through a novena – nine days of prayer – for the canonisation of the Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman.
The novena will begin on Friday 11th January, to end nine days later on January 20th. Prayers of course can be said anywhere, but would be most suitable during Mass. Perhaps a suggestion might be to begin with a Mass for the intention of a cure and for the canonisation of Cardinal Newman on January 11th, and with a Mass to end the novena on January 20th.

We will be saying the following prayer each day of the novena:
‘O God, who raised up Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman to be a model of those who seek for the truth and find it in full communion with the Catholic Church, graciously grant as a sign of his full sanctity the miraculous healing of Canon John Redford, who followed the same spiritual path, in order that he may continue his work of teaching and writing for your glory, who live and reign for ever and ever, Amen.’

With profound thanks to all who will be joining us for this novena.
Dr Petroc Willey
Acting Director, Maryvale Institute

Father John writes:
‘There is no question that the cancer as it now exists in my body is lethal, and treatment for it is only palliative, not with any hope of a medical cure.

Therefore, it seems clear, if by prayers offered to God asking for Cardinal Newman’s intercession, this cancer was cured, that there is no doubt that this would be a miracle.

The fact that there was no known cure, plus the coincidence of prayers for the canonisation of Cardinal Newman, would make this a miracle worthy of submission to Rome as one at least of the miracles required for John Henry Cardinal Newman Servant of God to be elevated to full sanctity.
‘I must insist (everyone who knows me will know that I would insist!) that we follow the doctrine of Holy Church here.

The Church is quite clear that such a miracle for which we pray is a gratia gratis data, ‘a grace gratuitously given’. It is distinct from a gratia by which we are saved, such as baptism and the eucharist.

Those are the blessings of the New Covenant in the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which will never be denied to any member of the human race who asks for such a grace, provided that a response of faith is given by the recipient.
‘On the contrary, a gratia gratis data is a purely gratuitous gift, like a vision or a private revelation (cf. CCC 66-67). That special gift will be given only if the Lord wishes so for his own purposes, perhaps a purpose which we shall never know on this earth.
‘If therefore our prayers for a miracle through the intercession of Blessed John Henry Newman are not successful, we may not conclude that there is something wrong (for example, and as is likely, with me!) It will be simply that the Almighty, for his own reasons, does not wish a miracle to happen through this means.

Perhaps he wants me to go fairly quickly to be with him, as Paul said so long ago, to the Philippian Christians:-
‘For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.’ (Phil 1:21-24)’

Which sums the man up so much better than I can.

I’m not a really a religious person, but if anyone deserves a miracle or help from up above, then Father John certainly does, so if you can spare a minute, and you don’t mind,  please just read the prayer at the top of this post.

I don’t know if it will make any difference, but it’s worth a try,

Thank you.

Canon John Redford

Canon John Redford

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Coping With The Aftermath

 

We arrived at the airport back home at approx 3.15am on the morning of Friday 15th July, tired and upset.

I had been crying all the way back on the flight, remembering Mum, her life, the sweet little things that she used to do sometimes, that I hadn’t appreciated at the time she had done them, realizing just how much I was going to miss them and trying to imagine what life was going to be like now that she was gone… and missing her so so much already.

An hour later we were at my Mum’s house where all my heroic siblings were gathered.

 

The house was just as mum left it that 4th July afternoon, her belongings everywhere, (she was always a bit disorganised, but she always knew where everything was) the book that she had been reading just before her fall still open on her bed, clothes in the washing basket, slippers by the side of her bed, just waiting for her to slip her little feet back into.

Downstairs, there were cups in the sink, dishes in the dishwasher, the Dyson out ready to vacuum something up, papers had been left open,  her clogs in the hallway neatly lined up…. the house even smelt of her perfume.

Everything was just as normal, just as it had been, and always was, waiting for her to come back and resume where she had left off.

Only that was never going to happen again.

Mum was gone.

80 years of memories, experiences, of happy times and sad times, gone like snow in the sunshine.

 

We all sat around talking, remembering, laughing and crying at the same time, until it got light.

We all needed some sleep, though that was easier said that done and we dozed off in the chairs in my Mum’s front room.

No one wanted to sleep in Mum’s bed.

We all secretly wanted to believe it was just a bad dream, and that if any of us slept in Mum’s bed and she caught us, she would go mental,

Mum’s bed, was MUM’S bed.

 

 

After a few hours of what could loosely be described as sleep, We all went to the hospital to try and get the death certificate sorted out ,make arrangements for Mum’s funeral and to engage a solicitor to instruct Mum’s will.

 

When we arrived at the hospital, a very nice doctor (who my siblings had been having dealings with from the last few days) took us in to a side room, had a long chat with us about Mum, why her condition had deteriorated so rapidly, and gave us a run down of her treatment over her last two days.

I was so tired I could hardly concentrate… everything was a blur.

 

I kept thinking of Mum and her last few months, shuffling around the house, trying to do her best, wondering why she wasn’t feeling or getting any better, whilst within her there was an infection that was growing and growing.

 

I though of the last 18 months that we had together, her first serious “ fall “ – slip – in December 2009, and her diagnosis in early 2010 that she needed a heart valve replacement.

Of the appointments that we went to, the pre op  tests, the intervening months when it was obvious to us, but not the medical profession that Mum’s condition was rapidly worsening.

Of Christmas 2010 when she was so ill she hardly attended the proceedings (we had Christmas dinner at Mum’s that year) because she was too tired and unwell, and of her increasing fatigue and memory problems as her valve problems grew worse.

Of the chats that we had together, her concerns and fears and her hopes and wishes for a healthier and fitter life.

One thing she was adamant on though, was that there was no way she was going to live as long as her mum whatever happened… words of prophesy.

My Family

 

I thought of her pottering around when she got eventually got home, finding it increasingly more difficult to manage in the house, even  with our  and outside help, and I thought of the last time I saw her, her wide brown eyes looking up at me as she said goodbye.

It was so sad, and such a shame.

 

Talking to the doctor did help a bit. It helped me understand or start to, the reason why she had gone from a frail but feisty old lady who had a fall, to one that was dying from an incurable infection, in such a short time.

He also stated that because it was believed that the infection was caught as a result of her heart operation, the coroner wanted a FULL INQUEST, which could be months away.

This was a blow, and meant postponing the funeral for a few weeks until we got an interim death certificate from the coroner (a week later).

 

Then came my last view of Mum.

 

The doctor asked if we wanted to see her.. All my siblings had been there all week, and didn’t need to, where as I did.. I HAD to see her just one last time, so they brought her up from the mortuary and placed her in the chapel of rest and ushered me in.

Poor old Mum…She lay there on the bed, cold as ice, but still Mum.

She smelt the same, she felt the same –her skin felt so soft, like silk, she always had a good complexion – she looked the same, though weirdly she looked as though she had put some weight on, her eyes were ¾ closed and she looked like she was just asleep… not dead.

For a moment I just stood there looking at her, willing her to wake up, but I knew in my heart that wasn’t going to happen

I took her hand in mine, and held it gently, and told her all the things that I had wanted to before she died.

I told her I loved her and I was going to miss her so much that it hurt.

That I didn’t know how I was going to cope without her and of how sorry I was that we hadn’t got back in time.

I told her that she once said that we didn’t love her for who she was, but only for what she was, and that I hoped that the events over the last two weeks had shown her just how much we DID love her…

I spoke for quite a few minutes, and then had to stop. I knew she couldn’t hear me, it was far too late.  I just couldn’t speak any more, the flood of grief and sorrow was overwhelming.

I said my goodbyes, kissed her on each cheek, on her forehead, and finally on her lips and left her lying there, at peace, my last sight of my poor old Mum.

“I’m going to miss you two” her last words to us

“I’m going to miss you too mum”…..

 

Before we left the hospital, I asked for a lock of Mum’s hair. They actually gave me two, and one is kept in a china ornament by the side of my bed. The other is in a multi windowed locket on a chain around my neck,  just long enough for the locket to rest above my heart.This gives me great comfort, and I feel like she is with me when I wear it.  

We then proceeded  to the undertakers to get things started, a traumatic process in itself.

This is where it starts to get a bit complicated….

 

My Dad died in 1981- July 12th to be precise.

We had a funeral, and a cremation, but Dad was never buried.

Mum kept his ashes in her bedroom, and at hard times would hold the container that they were in, for comfort.

 

When my Gran ( Mum’s mum ) died in 2006,  again we had a funeral and cremation ( this time though , the ashes were put in  to a casket ) and kept in her room at my mums house.

It was always her wish that the when she died, all 3 would be put in to the same grave, so that they could be together for eternity – This actually is a separate discussion which I might well cover at a later date – so in effect we were burying three people which brought three times the hurt too, long buried emotions bubbling to the surface again

 

Later that evening, we all went our separate ways back to our lives again.

Lives that were inconceivably different now.

 

Everyone had gone, there was just me and my wife left in the house. It was quiet, the only sound was the hum of the refrigerator in the dining room ,a room that held a lifetime of memories.

Everywhere we looked Mum was still there.

Her shoes lying forlornly in the hallway,  her dressing gowns hanging from the door in her room, a nightdress neatly folded on her bed, , her pillow, still with the shape of her head visible from 2 weeks before, everything waiting for her return.

Mum was there, but she wasn’t… and never was going to be again…..

All of a sudden the emotions became too much and we had to go.

 

There would be plenty more times I would be in the place.

It had to be cleared, all her possessions disposed of, either to the family, or to charity shops, and in all those times that I was there, until it was empty completely and sold,  the house never lost the essecence of Mum and kept the feeling that Mum was only temporarily gone and would return one day.

 

 

 

The next two weeks were a haze. I shut down completely.

All I could think about was poor old Mum, that she was gone, and how much I was going to miss her.

I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t go out..I couldn’t stop crying.

Everything I did or thought of reminded me of Mum, I couldn’t think of anything else, but there was one thing that helped blot out the pain of life right then…

My old friend Jack Daniels. I drank 4 litres in 5 days… It  just seemed the right thing to do, it dulled everything, made the heart ache more bearable.

 

Slowly I started to come round ( the jack ran out for a start, and I was banned from buying any more) and I began to take more of an interest what was happening around me, the funeral arrangements, designing and printing mums order of service, and life in general.

 

It has taken a long time for me to be able to think about Mum without getting distraught.

I still get upset now, and I miss her so so much, but at least when I’m asked how I’m doing, I can honestly say “I’m getting there “

 

 

My Mum

 

Goodbye my lovely Mum, until we meet again.

Forever is a long long time.

 

Mum – Happy Days

 

 

 

 

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A Mother’s Smile

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For ever and always, a mothers love and a beautiful smile Christmas 2003 – she was 73 then A mothers touch, a mothers smile, 14 weeks…. Its been a while My life has been turned upside down I’ve been to … Continue reading