Hope you're all keeping well and having a blast. It's almost the end of August downstairs. Donald and I follow your time although time does not exist where we are. Lady M has booked her Cyprus holiday for later this year. She can't believe autumn is round the corner in 2014. The leaves are falling off the trees. She has collected loads and put them in the bin for recycling. She has been so busy this year finishing writing about us and also those singing horses. She has spent the last two weeks writing that #7's foal story. The one that caused a website to crash. We read it over her shoulder. It is so, so, so funny. A little foal learning to groom himself, visit the bathroom and trot. Hilarious. Lady M has always said that it's her sense of humour that keeps her going (and amuses everyone else).
We hope you enjoyed reading about how I learned to cope in the afterlife in last week's blog. The surprises, etcetera. fascinating. This week we thought we would share one of our 'helping' experiences downstairs. We're going to share our hospital fete experience with you. ENJOY!
Gerald was waiting for them when they returned to the pub. They heard his raucous laugh as they walked through door before they saw him.
“So they’re honouring us with an operating theatre and a ward. It really was good when I drove you, ‘my dear Lady Godiva’…” he made a mock bow just as he had done last year when she arrived with Derek dressed as her husband, Lord Leofric 111, Earl of Mercia, “in my pride and joy, Victoria. Joanna always said that my Austin Healey sports car would be the death of me. She was right but I’m glad I was by my beloved’s side when I had the heart attack. I mean the car, not Joanna.” He roared again.
“You’ll come down with us to see the tribute to you and Sofia, then.”
“Sure, Scott wouldn’t miss it. It’s still a fancy dress occasion; are we dressing up again? I’d like to see you as Lady G.” He looked directly at her bust and not her face. Men don’t change even here, Sofia thought.
“Well, I’m not going as Lady G! Are you going as Robin Hood, Donald?”
“Dad, Friar Tuck?”
“Well, I’d look rather silly as Friar Tuck if you three aren’t joining in the fun, wouldn’t I?”
“So, we’re all going down to see the fun but not taking part in Derek’s brilliant idea of fancy dress.”
“Sweet Pea,” he looked seriously at his daughter, “there’s something you should know before we go down or it’ll be a shock.”
“What’s that? Is Derek parading in the all together this year?” she laughed.
“Worse, remember the beautiful emerald and diamond ring he bought you in Cyprus?”
“Yes, Sophie will have it.”
“No, he’s donated it as the main raffle prize.”
“What? That was my ring, part of my estate and my will states that my estate be divided between the twins.”
“Derek declared that everything apart from your personal bank account was his because he paid for it. You know that he instructed Miranda to take all your clothes and personal items to the charity shop. She has however kept your cross and chain and intends to give it to Sophie later.”
“The swine… sorry Donald but my beautiful ring was supposed to go to Sophie.”
“That’s my brother Derek. He can gain more kudos by donating it.”
“Are we all ready then?”
“I’m coming, too Grandpa.”
“Okay, so it’s five of us going down. Brenda, Barbara, you two coming?”
“No, you know we prefer to stay here now.” Brenda replied, speaking on her sister’s behalf.
“There he is, with Joanna.” Sofia had seen Derek dressed in his theatre gown with a picture of Christiaan Barnard on the front and the slogan, ‘Look After Your Heart’. Donny had a child’s doctors outfit on complete with stethoscope and Sophie a nurse’s uniform. Miranda was clearly Florence Nightingale carrying her lamp. Naturally, C.U. was next to Miranda wearing a traditional Cypriot folk dancing costume which was getting quite a lot of attention particularly when he started dancing and encouraging others to join him. “Who needs music,” he joked.
“Your dancing is superb like your mouth watering mousaka.” Miranda said while applauding him.
Gerald went pale; there were tears in his eyes as he stood next to his sons and Joanna. Unlike Scott, Donald and Sofia he had not kept an eye on the family he left behind. His teenage sons had grown considerably and were more like young men than boys as they proudly escorted their mother. A sober Joanna was wearing black indicating she was still in mourning for Gerald rather than fancy dress. She remembered all too clearly her appearance as Desdemona last year when everything was so different. Their lives changed the day Gerald died.
The chairperson of the NHS Trust, James McIntosh, moved toward the podium, tapped the microphone, cleared his throat and began,
“Ladies and Gentlemen, friends of the hospital may I thank you all for attending this fête and for your continued support. It is pleasing to see so many of you in festive dress taking part in the competition. I am pleased to tell you that as a result of the numerous activities throughout the year our funds are healthy…” He paused; there was the anticipated laughter and applause.
“…we are operating within Government guidelines and meeting our targets. The numbers on our waiting lists for surgical procedures is down. We hold a high position in the NHS primary care Trust; our score for quality of service is excellent. Our battle with MRSA has been won as a result of our high standard of hygiene on the wards.” He paused again and looked down, choked slightly, looked up again and spoke in a softer voice, “Unfortunately the hospital has suffered in other ways this year. It is with much sadness that I tell you of the untimely death of one of our highly respected surgeons, Mr Gerald Levington-Hume last November. Another of our surgeons has suffered two personal losses in a short space of time this year; Mr Derek Haslington lost his brother in a tragic accident in January and his wife in another accident in May. Mr Haslington’s sister-in-law Miranda also worked in our hospital in the physiotherapy department. Our sympathy and condolences go out to both families…”
“Look at Derek. He’s really enjoying this.”
“You know him so well, Sweet Pea.”
Gerald was standing behind his wife and sons with his arms around them; he was the one in tears.
“…Many of you will remember both Gerald and the lovely Sofia from last year’s event when Sofia dressed as Lady Godiva and Gerald drove her around the grounds in his vintage sports car. It is out of respect for these families that the hospital has decided to rename Theatre number two, The Gerald Levington-Hume Theatre; that was the theatre where he performed many of his operations. Further, the new Cardiac Ward with twenty beds will be named The Sofia Haslington Ward…”
Everyone applauded. Derek looked round and smiled while Joanna looked acutely embarrassed and uncomfortable.
“…I shall now take the two families to the appropriate places in the hospital and officially open them. With the help of modern technology you will all be able to watch on the screen.”
There was further applause as he left the podium and headed toward the hospital entrance closely followed by Derek, the twins and Miranda with Joanna and her sons further behind.
“Shall we go in or stay here, Sweet Pea?”
“Oh, I think we should go in Dad and it’s time for your smoke rings.”
Donald laughed, “I know he’s my brother but I have to agree he deserves the smoke ring treatment.”
“We’re going in Gerald; are you coming?”
So all five of them joined them first at the theatre where Joanna’s sons both held the scissors and cut the blue ribbon declaring the The Gerald Levington-Hume Theatre open. Gerald’s tears cascaded down his cheeks; if only he could have stayed alive longer just for his sons.
Scott patted him on the shoulder, “You know how it works; it was your time.”
They moved on to the new ward where Derek was happy to take the scissors and smile for the people outside until he was aware of that awful odour: Embassy cigarettes. Once again, his father-in-law was around spoiling his moment of glory. His smile changed to a frown much to the amazement of the assembled throng.
The twins held hands supporting each other; Miranda was behind them as Derek cut the blue ribbon, “I declare the Sofia Haslington Ward open.”
They returned to the fête. James McIntosh went to the podium and reminded the people that there were cakes on the cake stall; items on the white elephant stall, tombola, many other things and raffle tickets were still available. The raffle would be drawn at 4.30 p.m. after the winner of the Fancy Dress competition had been announced. He encouraged them to carry on the good work and keep spending.
“Shall we mingle?”
“Okay Donald, we’ll mingle. Are you all right Gerald?”
“I think so.” It was so unusual to see him in tears rather than hear him laughing.
“A piece of advice: stay in touch. If you keep an eye on what’s happening down here it’s much easier to cope with being dead. It’s as if you’re still with them.”
“I think you’re right Scott.”
“I’ve been dead for over five years. I learned that a long time ago.”
Sofia walked over to the raffle stall; her ring was at the centre of the prizes and everyone who bought a ticket had their eye on it.
“I’d like to take it and give it to Sophie.”
“Keep calm, Sweet Pea. This is something that is not beyond our control.”
“What are you going to do Grandpa?”
“Watch us in action later.”
Donald had his eye on C.U. he was at Miranda’s side. He heard him offer to take her and the children out for the day on Friday. He had a day’s holiday and thought they might like a picnic in the country. He knew the twins or the lovely Sofia’s legacy as he referred to them liked his car and he would use anything or any weapon in his “Operation Miranda wealthy widow”. On Friday, Donald decided that there would be an extra passenger.
At 4.30 p.m. James McIntosh was at the podium again with an envelope in his hand,
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I have the worthy winner of our fancy dress competition. It is…”
He opened the envelope, “…John Machin, one of our hospital porters. He is also a supporter of The British Heart Foundation.” This gave rise to much laughter as John came forward for his prize; £100 worth of vouchers donated by a local chain store. He was wearing a theatre gown with hundreds of small hearts sewn on it and a sash saying British Heart Foundation; during the afternoon he had distributed leaflets from the BHF.
“Now, we have the raffle draw. The first prize is this beautiful diamond and emerald eighteen karat ring donated by Mr Haslington…”
“It’s time to go to work, come on Dad.”
Sofia looked at Miranda’s tickets. “White; nine-two-seven.”
“Okay.” Scott was by the tombola which now had all the raffle tickets in it. As James put his hand in, it was Scott who put the white ticket with number nine-two-seven on it in his hand.
“… It’s a white ticket…number nine-two-seven.” He looked up; everyone with a white ticket looked down frantically hoping to be lucky those with other coloured tickets sighed.
“I’ve got it.” Miranda held it up to a round of applause. Derek looked embarrassed and said, “We will return it; please draw another ticket.”
“No,” Miranda stared at him, “We will not return it. It was Sofia’s ring I will accept it and give it to my niece.”
The applause turned into a marked silence with looks of disdain in Derek’s direction; the sympathy and respect had gone. Then there were hushed comments, “his wife’s ring,” “disgusting,” “how could he?” “It should be Sophie’s”
The only remaining applause was unheard; it came from Billy, “Nice one, Mum, Grandpa.”
Donald spoke in his brother’s ear, “Serves you right!” he turned to the others, “I hope he heard me.”
Miranda went up to the podium and collected it. James just hoped that people did not think it was a ‘fix’. Of all the tickets why did he have to choose that one? Miranda immediately gave it to Sophie and then there was more applause. Derek’s face reddened; for the first time in his life he really wished the ground would swallow him up. He would have a lot to say to Miranda later. Once again his moment of glory had been stolen from him; he was still aware of the Embassy aroma and knew that his father-in-law had something to do with it.
It had been a bad week for Derek. First, he had discovered that his wife had embarrassed him by obtaining masses of money from loan companies. Then he had learned that she had no funds left to pay for her lavish funeral and now this. They would leave immediately. He was not going to stay and endure further embarrassment.
“Well, family I think we should be leaving now. Sheba has been left alone in the house for long enough.” It was the only excuse he could think of to justify his departure.
“Got ya again, fooled ya, serves ya right.” Sofia was shouting at him.
Sophie was delighted with the ring but it caused tears to flow down her cheeks and so she was quite pleased to leave. Miranda wanted to stay but common sense told her that it would be more sensible to leave and she would deal with Derek’s anger and annoyance at home. She had told him when she was clearing Sofia’s things that the jewellery should be Sophie’s and now it was. Donny just tagged along. C.U. was left staring after Miranda.
James continued to draw the tickets and the rest of the raffle prizes were distributed.
“Well, our work is all done here. I think it’s time to go back to the pub for a drink. Come on Gerald. You’ll feel better after a whisky or two.”
Taken from Chapter 7 of Sofia's Legacy. If you're intrigued and have not read the first two books of the trilogy...
Coming soon... LOVE YOU FOREVER,
"It's been 5 years since Sofia died, and she and the other spirits "upstairs" continue and watch the dramatic events and devastating consequences that unfold on the earthly plane. This is book 3 in the Sofia Trilogy."
There's still time to read the first two books, LOOK AFTER EACH OTHER and SOFIA'S LEGACY. Simply send a message on the comments, or they are available from Amazon, other online retailers and good book shops. Don't want to buy them? Borrow them from your local library
Sofia and Donald
Sofia and Donald