One of the big questions in life is ‘why are we here?’ , very deep, very intense, and too much to consider on a sleepless (the birds are up but not much else) Monday morning. So why am I even considering this soul searcher then? Well, it’s more about the footprint we leave…
Seventy five years ago hundreds of thousands of young, able bodied and incredibly brave men, descended upon the Normandy beaches, in an incredible push to free Europe from Hitler’s fascist regime. Thousands died and many more were injured. Some had been present four years previous, when the allied forces faced a bloody retreat from the beaches of Dunkirk…Imagine, all those men; the nervous energy. They’d have made hasty coded goodbyes, sought peace with God, and savoured final flings with sweethearts…most of them younger than my eldest.
Last week’s anniversary commemorations sparked a wave of stories, letters and poems, all evoking a sense of pride and humility in oneself. Even the pacifists amongst us are well aware of the horrors that had to be endured to provide a freer world and future for all. Brave and afraid, those men had no choice, but they did have a plan. And when you plan well, well you can’t possibly fail.
One of the things they had to do was overcome adversity – adverse weather, conditions and enemy fire. Everything needed to be planned precisely. Decoy messages were passed and paratrooper dummies were dropped in elaborate hoaxes to fool the Germans. Bizarre tanks were created called ‘Hobart’s funnies’, which were the tank equivalent of a Swiss Army knife – there was nothing they could not do. Whole communities were turfed out of villages so secret training could be given to the troops…All this monumental preparation and meticulous planning could not control the weather or influence, or predict, the enemies’ reaction. However, what we could include was the knowledge of our resilience in the face of arrogance.
Much was written about the arrogance of the Americans who saw themselves as the white charger coming to rescue us useless Brits from annihilation – but what is less known is the way they very quickly learnt to respect us and admire us for the way we had just carried on through such adversity. A relationship was formed on respect. Therefore, whilst our men bobbed around and waited for two days, in the English Channel, for ‘a typical cloudy June dawn (just look at it out there today), a low tide and a full moon, to propel them towards the beaches…Hitler was sleeping soundly (no one dare wake him to inform him of the raids). His top general was making a flying visit from France to Germany, to present his wife with a pair of shoes, for her 50th birthday (most people didn’t even have shoes in Paris by this point). And thousands of German troops were tricked by the aforementioned decoys.
Our men were valiant and overcame, on what Is now known as ‘The Longest Day’. You cannot fail to be humbled by our heroes – many fallen. But, these men weren’t gods. They were mortals with faults and flaws and regrets…they all had a shared purpose though. They fought for love, life and liberty.
We all have our own battles and I’ve often said that we need to be mindful that others are probably fighting something of their own, there’s always someone worse off, etc. But our journeys aren’t easy. Very often when we are faced with adversity, our determination pulls us through. I’ve spent years overcoming obstacles. I’ve naturally find ways to cope with degenerative sight loss. Something I could do even five years ago isn’t possible now. However, I’ve found ways round it. You just do don’t you? But, sitting down and assessing what I ‘do’ to actually ‘do’, is another matter entirely. Just like ‘Hobart’s Funnies’ I’ve had to use weird and wonderful inventions to enable me to succeed. My latest product is (I’m sorry to my good friend Karl here as it appears there’s another way rather than burning your fingers) a liquid level tester. You basically stick it on your tea cup and it bleeps and vibrates when liquid reaches it. No more spilt water (our burnt fingers). My mum (and Him as his nose is bigger than Rosie Dog’s) has been helping me ‘assess my life as a blindish girl’. We’ve been breaking down everyday tasks and looking what I do to succeed. Mum said (when we’d discussed the fact I need supervision taking hot things out of the oven and the fact I can’t see boiling water) ‘but nobody would believe that this clever woman who uses other senses to succeed, needs supervision’. That’s it though isn’t it – in the face of adversity we endeavour to succeed.(Something I need to be mindful of whilst training through the current deluge).
So, back to the original question ‘Why are we here?’. Well, our men were here seventy five years ago, to pave the way for a freer world. There footprint, like their fathers and grandfathers, thirty years previous, should never be forgotten. We should take from them the message of respect, bravery, and steely resolve, to build ourselves a good future. We should never waste what they gave us. ‘Therefore, how do we do that? Well, let’s ask ‘Why am I here now?’, me personally, my journey is difficult and arduous, but it’s nothing compared to what others have to battle. But, as I said it’s about my footprint and that’s something I want to leave firmly behind for my family to build upon. Who knows what the scary future holds, but my sight won’t be holding me back.
As long as someone can supervise me.