It was a great shock today when the news reported that the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is on fire.
Notre Dame fire: What we know
A major fire erupted at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris Monday.
The cathedral, which was undergoing renovations, suffered extensive damage.
Authorities have not yet determined the cause of the fire.
No deaths have been reported.
Notre Dame construction began in 1163 and was completed in 1345.
The iconic spire at the top of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris has collapsed after a major fire broke out Monday. A Video showed part of the roof of the cathedral collapsing into itself as the fire rages on.
“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre Dame spokesperson Andre Finot told French media, according to the Associated Press. By Monday evening, Paris fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet told reporters he believes firefighters have managed to save the cathedral’s landmark rectangular towers from the blaze.
Gallet said, “We now believe that the two towers of Notre Dame have been saved,” Reuters news agency reported. “We now consider that the main structure of Notre Dame has been saved and preserved.” There was still a risk that some of the interior structures could collapse, he said.
It is horrible! I who have seen this amazing building several times and felt the unusual spirit of what was within these walls. In my opinion, the emotions in this church might have been caused by millions of prayers, by shiny eyes, fascinated thoughts, and Christian comfort.
My heart is bleeding that the world might be losing one of the most fascinating historical buildings still existing. I pray that this won’t happen and that today’s generation and the next ones will have to chance to see what I saw, to feel what I felt and to experience what millions of people experience year by year…
May the world see this miracle of architectural art back in its old varnish and glory, the way it once was, we all knew it – and how it hopefully once will be again.
Last year, sometime in October, I published a hilarious story, written by Merlin Fraser. I named it “On a different note” and the ones who read it had a good laugh with Merlin’s humor.
With this guest post, Merlin shows us that he’s not ‘only’ a great writer, and has his well known, a bit rough humor; but he is also a talented author of great sensitivity and treasures his memories with a warm heart and a trace of sadness many of us would not have expected.
I wanted to share this side of Merlin with you and I’m sure you will read his guest post and find it as valuable and admirable as I do.
“And now for something completely different,” to coin a phrase, I pinched it from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, in case you were wondering where you heard the expression before.
I’m sure you tire of my exploits with trees so a change of tack is required as I explore some of the many characters I have met during my country upbringing.
Journeying back to the 1950’s I think this character reflects a slightly cruel streak in our past due to a complete lack of understanding as to the causes of what is now considered a mental illness.
Bernie was a gentle soul never known to harm anything or anyone but to all he was cruelly known as the village idiot and to my everlasting shame I have to confess that as a kid I was no better than the rest.
To this day I have no idea what the problem was within Bernie’s brain, as I remember he was looked after an old lady at the far end of the village but as to their relationship, I have no idea. To her great credit, Bernie was always clean well fed and fairly well dressed in hand-me-downs’, presumably donated from other villagers.
Bernie would do odd jobs, take letters to the post box, that sort of thing and could always be relied on to hold one end of a long skipping rope for the girls or go in goal for a friendly football kick about. Although I suspect today’s parents would have a different view of a Bernie in the midst of their offspring and would probably demand his removal from the community, however, as I said Bernie was absolutely harmless.
For a while, he did the daily village paper rounds, until one dark stormy winter’s day all the daily papers were found thrown inside the door of the village church. With hindsight, I think that in that thunderstorm Bernie just got scared, panicked and ran home. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that was the end of the only paying job he ever had.
After that, the paper delivering job fell upon us kids, and we took it in turns to bugger it up as best we could but in a crafty way so as not to raise too much suspicion or acquire a thick ear. Whether this was a childish attempt to get Bernie his job back or just a piece of rebellion I cannot say, but in my case probably the latter. However, whichever kid had the duty Bernie was always a constant companion chattering away and pointing at anything and everything that caught his eye. Except on Sundays, his guardian always insisted Bernie went with her to church.
Not very far away from our village there was a large agricultural college and quite a few of the students had their own transport, mainly vintage motorbikes but there was the odd Ex Army Land Rover that could, somehow or another, manage to hold about ten students, more depending up the season or how drunk they were.
Back then, any such college was way beyond the means of the average family and the agricultural college more so and it seemed to be populated by the children of the landed gentry or well to do Farmers. In other words, ‘Privileged OIKS,’ who because of their often-rowdy behaviour would get banned from more and more pubs and have to travel further and further afield to get a drink. They used to invade our village pub on a regular basis. Now our pub landlord was a genial host, far more tolerant than many and more than happy to take their money, and it is the subject of money that brings me back to Bernie.
Most days, thanks to his never-failing routine depending on the time of day you could always find Bernie. If there were cows or horses in the fields close by that’s where he would be feeding them handfuls of grass stroking and talking to them.
As kids it took us ages to win the confidence of big animals, Bernie, on the other hand, was always surrounded by them. Even little birds would take food from his hands. While if it were me the little sods would sit on the ground about twenty feet away with their head cocked at that jaunty angle and that look in their beady eye that said, “you have got to be joking!”
On sunny summer evenings Bernie had a favourite seat on a wall across from the pub, he never went in unless he had found or was given an empty bottle and then he could reclaim the three pence deposit. From his perch, Bernie had a grandstand view of the pub and as he sat there in his own little world, he would sit swinging his legs and waving at all who came and went.
On the occasions when the invading hoards came from the college, some would try to engage Bernie in conversation, which was impossible. If he wanted something he would ask or more often just point, he talked, more often than not any response to your reply was never connected. Therefore, we learnt to simply listen and smile in understanding.
However, one Sunday evening there was much hilarity outside the pub close to Bernie’s wall and Bernie seemed to be in the centre of the action. To Alan, my best pal, and me it looked like the college students were picking on or making fun of him and we went to investigate. What exactly we intended to do was unclear since there was about twenty of them and only two of us and at that time there was a considerable age and size difference. Thankfully, it never came to that because as we got closer, we discovered that there was some sort of game going on and by the happy look on Bernie’s face, he was winning.
To explain the game, I have to take you back to pre-decimal British coinage, I won’t bore you with the confusing facts as to why there was 240 pennies in a pound or 12 pence in a shilling but the size of the coins of the day played a significant part in the game.
Therefore, a sixpenny piece was half the size of a shilling piece. A shilling was half the size of a two-shilling piece and there was another coin, which was called half a crown that was slightly bigger than a two-shilling piece and worth six pence more.
I’m already confused, and I grew up with this crazy system, but fear not it’s not critical because the game here is based upon size and as you can see from the above description size relates to value, all very logical, however, I doubt Bernie had any notion of logic.
The students seemed to be taking it in turns to challenge Bernie by showing him two coins of different sizes and demanding he chose one. Bernie always took the smaller coin and therefore the one of lesser value, this was the cause of the hilarity and so the game went on until the students tired of the game, they sweetly called ‘idiot baiting’ and returned to the pub to throw beer and darts at one another.
Allan and I tried as best we could to explain to Bernie the error of his decisions, even showing him the difference in size from the collection of coins he had won by playing the same game between Allan and me, Bernie just frowned and shook his head.
We gave up, well I did, Allan had one more question, “Bernie why can’t you understand?”
Bernie emptied his pockets and at a rough guess he had at least two pounds in loose change, by kids standards a King’s ransom in those days, he looked at us and said, ”If Bernie take big coin they don’t play with Bernie no more !”
I learnt a valuable lesson that day and I suspect Allan did too.
What happened to Bernie?
Sad to say I have no idea after I joined the Navy in the early ’60s my family moved away from the village. When I eventually went back for a visit a few years later he was gone. The old woman who looked after him had died and I suspect the local authorities moved in and sent him off to an institution somewhere.
Nowadays in the mad rush and tear of modern living, I often think of those far off days, it was a far gentler time, the pace of life was far slower, and I can’t help thinking the world is a sadder place without the Bernie’s and the gentle humanity of a close community.
I’m not the woman I once was…I know the hurt, the battle within.
I’m not the woman I once was… I’m not the mama I once was… but I’m me, please take me as I am, full of flaws… I know the hurt, the battle within.
My own mother was devoid of feeling towards most of her children, and I was the perfect black sheep in her eyes. She wasn’t affectionate, didn’t hug, or show love as I grew up. If she did show to any my siblings, I never once saw it. I told myself that I would the opposite with my own children if I were to be blessed by God and given the gift of children.
I was blessed with three boys and one daughter (from my second marriage). My first born died in utero (inside me), labor was induced, and Shane was stillborn. I was crushed and in an abusive marriage. My second son, Gene, was born ‘blue’, but he rallied around and with the grace of God, he is now a machinist. Sam, my youngest, was born and I thought life would be good. I lavished love, hugs, and kisses on both boys, and eventually left their abusive father. However, Sam ended up passing away at age five years old. I was broken, and full of shattered shards and bits of life, as we know it.
I’m not the woman I once was… I’m not the mama I once was…
– Many of you on social media know that I’m not who I used to be.
– I’m different now… a different ‘me’. It has been this way since October 1990.
– When I remarried, my new daughter never got the chance to know the ‘me’ before the new me. Rachel – you never got to know the first ‘me’ before ‘the new me’. I’m sorry you never got to meet the ‘first me’ – you may have liked that ‘me’.
– When Sam died, and after the tubes were removed, I rocked him in my arms for about 20 minutes. My body was torn apart and I could barely even breathe.
– I kissed Sam’s corpse over and over and messed up his lips (he had been intubated and required lip filler), and nothing was ever the same.
– I’m sorry to both my kids on Earth, Gene and Rachel, and to my husband, for always being there in my physical form, but yet now ‘really there’. Imagine a zombie mother living in the house and baking cookies yet she isn’t really ‘there’. A mother going to Boy Scout events, field trips, musical events, sports games, and the like, but one part seems missing.
– As each year passes by, I am more ‘there’ but know that moments do happen and always will happen. You see change is inevitable, and some parents change even more so.
– For us baby boomers who have lost, we also never had enough pictures, and never will. Thankfully the millennial generation, have tons of instant pictures thanks to electronics. Life has taught me that if you are a parent, just love your children, say it and show it every day. Spoil them from time to time, (as it doesn’t hurt to give a little sometimes), and those are moments to treasure. Don’t let only Valentine’s Day be a day of showing your love; make every day that day. You only have the here and now so make the most of it, and you won’t be sorry.
WORDS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT LOST A CHILD/ CHILDREN
“Does it get any easier after losing a child? Somewhat…
Is it possible for a parent to be happy their child/children are perfect in Heaven above… and feel peace with that? Sure… (It took me twenty-three years for Eli and somewhat less for Joshua.)
Can a parent ever “get over” losing a child? No. This is the KING of loss. We can be happy that they are perfect in Heaven and sad at times when we miss them the most.
Bereaved parents are continually re-writing each day, as they try to cope with their new “normal.” This won’t change. We will think of our loss when other children reach milestones such as their first tooth, first steps, first words, kindergarten, holidays, best friend, graduation, prom, falling in love, first kiss, learning to drive, getting married… the list is endless. There will always be reminders of our loss.
The WORST things you can ever say to a parent who has suffered the KING of loss, even after one, ten, twenty, or more years? “You should be over it by now,” or “Move on with life.” You see, we are moving on with life. We just do it one hour… one day at a time… re-writing life as we go along.”
~S Jackson, October 2014
About the author
Mary L. Schmidt writes under the pen name of S. Jackson, and she is a retired registered nurse, who won the coveted Leora B. Stroup Bachelor of Science in Nursing Award for outstanding clinical performance, community involvement and academic achievement in Nursing Award, while at Fort Hays State University. She is a Member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: The international professional organization for writers and illustrators of children’s literature, and Sigma Theta Tau International: The Honor Society of Nursing, which is the second-largest nursing organization in the world with approximately 135,000 active members. She loves spending time with her husband, Michael, who is also her co-author, A. Raymond; their son Gene, daughter Rachel, and first born grandchild, Austin.