Owen in hospital again, please pray

Baby Owen asleep in Gareth\'s arms

Dear lovely praying people of the internet, please could I ask you to pray once again for my brother’s son Owen, as well as Rebecca and Eddie.

Last night we got a telephone call from my Mum to say that Owen was rushed into the Sick Kids hospital by ambulance having had breathing troubles after which he turned very pale and then blue.

We got praying straight away and began texting other friends and members of the family to get them praying too. Mum kept us up-to-date with goings on.

At about 03:00 am Jane woke with a start as a text message came in from Eddie to say that Owen had bronchiolitis caused by a Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), that he was on oxygen and lots of TLC and would probably remain in hospital for a few days yet.

I looked up RSV on the internet, when I realised that it didn’t mean Revised Standard Version. Here’s what a US site called Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says:

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia among infants and children under 1 year of age. Illness begins most frequently with fever, runny nose, cough, and sometimes wheezing. During their first RSV infection, between 25% and 40% of infants and young children have signs or symptoms of bronchiolitis or pneumonia, and 0.5% to 2% require hospitalization. Most children recover from illness in 8 to 15 days. The majority of children hospitalized for RSV infection are under 6 months of age.

All of which makes sense. Owen has had a cold for a couple of days, which he seemed to be fighting quite well, but bless him it obviously got too much for him. He’s in the best place just now and we’ll keep praying for him and his lovely parents Rebecca and Eddie.


Jane, Benjamin and Jenni standing in front of the fireplace in our house in Cellardyke.
Jane, Benjamin and Jenni standing in front of the fireplace in our house in Cellardyke.

Yesterday my sister Jenni and her son Benjamin travelled up from Selkirk, and visited our house in Cellardyke for the first time. I can hardly believe that given we’ve had the house for over 15 months now Jenni and Benjamin had never seen it!

It was the final day of Benjamin’s mid-term break and we wanted to help make it a bit special for him. So having had a meeting in town at 09:00 I hung around and met them off the bus at St Andrew’s Square.

It was a fairly productive ‘hanging around’ though: I bought a new hat at Millets, and had this exchange with a shop assistant there:

Me: I’ve got a new hobby: losing hats. I’ve lost two in the last few months.

Shop assistant: Well, at least you’re approaching your new hobby with a certain degree of enthusiasm.

Jenni had also asked me to check out the WH Smith (newsagent) at Waverley as she’d had a tip-off (from Forbidden Planet) that I might find the latest collector’s edition Marvel Spiderman comic (#135) there, which Benjamin was looking for. It wasn’t. But (a) I did bump into a friend, Suz, outside Waverley, which was cool; and (b) I found the comic at the WH Smith at St Andrew’s Square Bus Station, just as Jenni and Benjamin arrived.

Meeting up with Jane at home — who was sporting a new, shorter and coloured hair style (see photo above) — we sped off to Cellardyke. After a spot of lunch, Jane, Jenni and Benjamin set about putting the house to rights in preparation for guests from Interhome this coming weekend. Meanwhile, I put together a CSV file of all the Scottish Episcopal Church saints’ days and festivals for merging into MS Outlook. Which will be my next post, when I return from the 11:00 am Eucharist this morning.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Gareth and Keith Saunders

Today would have been my Dad’s sixty-first birthday.

The photo shows me standing beneath my tree in our garden in Selkirk. The three of us (me, Jenni and Eddie) each had our own trees in the garden; that one was mine. That photo must have been taken around 1991, judging by the dodgy haircut, black polo neck jumper, giant (darkened) glasses and white basketball trainers. What on earth was I thinking?!

Anyway, it was one of the few good photographs that I have of Dad and me; and shows just how much taller I was than him! I still wish that he was with us — sixty-one wouldn’t have been that old; fifty-two certainly wasn’t.

Ian W. Mitchell, 1939 – 2006

Sketch of Ian W. Mitchell
Sketch of Ian W. Mitchell as Selkirk Merchant Company Standard Bearer, 1986. Scanned from the back page of his Service of Thanksgiving order of service booklet.

Today I drove down to Selkirk for a Service of Thanksgiving for Ian W. Mitchell (known to Jenni, Eddie and me as Uncle Ian), a weel kent face aroond Selkirk, and a life-long and very dear friend of my Mum, and my sister Jenni’s godfather. Ian died a few days ago of cancer.

The service was a joyful celebration of Ian’s life: “cheeky so-and-so”, engineer, lecturer, photographer, community servant and family man. The appreciation was given by the Rev Jim Campbell, the parish minister in Selkirk, who was at St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews at the same time as me, and it was great. In fact the whole service was, as I said a joyful celebration. There are some funerals that I’ve been to where I’ve left the church building feeling worse than when I arrived, but today’s was one that lifted your spirits, gave hope and a boosted determination to make a difference, because Ian certainly made a difference to those around him.

Following the service we return to the Mitchell’s house — a house I’ve not been in since I was a wee boy. It was funny because I remembered it pretty much exactly as it was, only smaller — but then everything seemed bigger in those days!

Walking into the kitchen I caught up with an old school friend, Janice. I was quite delighted that she recognised me — because oddly some old friends of mine don’t seem to! It was a real delight to catch up with her news, share some of mine, and have a laugh. She was one of the few people there that I really knew — a lot of faces I recognised and names I knew, but few old friends.

When Janice had to go, I went in search of my Mum and found Janice’s brother Robert in the living room, with whom I used to sing in the Borders Youth Choir. We exchanged a few reminiscences and then I had to go.

Driving back to Edinburgh in the late afternoon I was struck by the simple beauty of the Scottish Borders countryside: the greens, and reds, and oranges, and yellows, in the hills and trees, washed over with a light mist; the blue sky transitioning into the evening. As the miles ticked by I realised just how much I love the Borders, how much I still regard it as home.

And I relished that moment — living in the now — realising just how fortunate I am to have a community that I can return to and be known (even if by only one or two) and be understood. I’m fortunate to have that heritage, and extended family.

In that moment I realised that I was content. Even though the day was infused with the sadness of Uncle Ian’s death, there was a blessing in those who had gathered with their stories of Ian, and the stories of their own lives. There was a blessing in our simply being together and remembering, and also making new connections, and re-establishing old connections too. Today, in the midst of the realities of death, there was very much an affirmation of the goodness and wonder and mystery of life.

As the miles clocked by, and the scenery’s colours darkened, I let Soulfly‘s Dark Ages album wash over me, and let the tears trickle down my face, and I worshipped God.