Please Help Raise Money for Bone Marrow Cancer Sufferers
Today and all weekend right through to Monday, I’m doing something I very rarely do and giving away not just my short stories collection, but my novel as well. I haven’t been struck with fever, but with a desire to commemorate someone very dear to me who died last summer.
Today would have been my father’s birthday. He was born and lived most of his life on the Shetland Islands, with his only extended absence being to serve in the army during World War II. When I was young, I wasn’t terribly interested in his war stories, but when I finally started listening a few years ago I was amazed at what he’d gone through.
My father’s island home is often referred to as the edge of the world. Near the very north of the island is Skaw, where a single-track road curves past an old croft house, down towards ragged cliffs. Dad and I went there the year before his death, and he told me war stories. I listened. I even recorded them.
During World War II, this windswept outpost of the British Isles was the perfect location for guiding aircraft coming in from the North Atlantic and North Sea back to Britain. When the war began there was no equipment to do the guiding. At seventeen, too young to go to war, my father was among the men who began working at the construction of a radar station.
The British military personnel weren’t the only ones who realised the strategic importance of that windswept northerly island. As Dad and his workmates laid pipes or poured concrete, Nazi bombers would come flying towards them, taking pot-shots or dropping bombs. Sometimes, too far from the shelters to run, they hid in cliffs. The day we drove along the winding road between the ruins of that radar station, Dad described the men diving for cover, and his description was so vivid it almost felt as if I could see them there too, or as if their ghosts were with us.
Dad was nineteen when he was called up to go to war. He served in the Royal Engineers, servicing trucks and other vehicles. He was on board a ship ready to land in France on D-Day, but so many ships were docking that his stayed behind, and he reached land the next day. For several months after that, well into the chill of autumn nights, he and his comrades slept rough as they moved through France and into Belgium. Each night they dug out a sleeping hollow in the earth.
My father loved to learn and never stopped doing so throughout his life. He told me he was a slow learner at school, but he didn’t tell me the reason was because of his poor eyesight. My mother explained that. Dad’s family was poor and he didn’t get treatment for a squint until he was in the army, which was too late to fully correct his sight. In different circumstances he might well have been a professor of geography, but instead he worked as a plumber and crofter (small holding farmer.)
He died of myeloma, a cancer that attacks the bone marrow and causes other complications. With compromised bone marrow, some people struggle with infection after infection. A former colleague of mine died this way. Dad got through over four years of myeloma with no serious infections, but didn’t mean he got away lightly. The cancer attacked and destroyed some of his vertebrae. Within weeks of the diagnosis he was bent over. He looked no taller than my mum who was seven inches shorter than him, and he never stood to his full height again. And although the intensity varied from day to day, he was never without pain.
Last spring Dad was enjoying a remission from the cancer, and respite from the pain. We visited and took him on excursions. He loved the trip we took to a nearby island, he loved just having us there. Then as summer came on, blood tests showed the cancer was on the rise again and he made the 500 mile round trip to hospital in Aberdeen – taking an overnight ferry both ways – to discuss possible treatments. On the journey he caught a cold. My daughters and I went to visit shortly after this, and by then he was breathless with a chest infection and anaemia. He needed a blood transfusion and I went with him to the only hospital on the Shetland Isles – a journey that involved two car ferries, and a lot of sitting about at ferry terminals. Dad was in hospital the rest of the time we were in Shetland but when we got back I spoke to him most days on the phone. The end came suddenly. The last day I spoke to him, the call was interrupted when a physiotherapist came to see him. He was due to go home the next day and she’d come to discuss equipment that was to be fitted at his home to make it easier for him to get about. The last words he said to me were, “We’ll speak again.”
Don’t worry, I’m not about to say that Dad told me to do this giveaway! But, as anyone who has lost someone precious will understand, he is in my mind every day. So to commemorate his birthday I’m having a big giveaway of both my ebooks. In return, I’d love if you would donate to Myeloma UK through my Justgiving page. As well as supporting sufferers, Myeloma UK is at the forefront of researching the causes and the search into a cure for myeloma.
The Giveaway runs from 25th – 28th April, starting at midnight Pacific time, which is 8am UK time on the 25th. This link will take you to Drawings In Sandon Amazon.com (Readers in Australia and India should be able to get to your store by using this link and adding your country’s suffix to the url.)
For Amazon UK click here.
For all other countries, except Australia and India, just select the UK link and change .co.uk to your country’s url suffix.
This link will take you to Looking For America on Amazon.com
And this is the UK link.