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  • Writer's pictureAustin Birks

Reflections On Life And Death As Her Majesty The Queen Embarks On Her Final Journey

As I write this blog, I am watching the mortal remains of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II leave Balmoral castle for the very last time, as she commences her long and winding journey through Scotland, and finally to her final resting place reunited with the Duke of Edinburgh. Her rock, as she described him throughout their long married life together. Where, united forever, they will rest in peace for the rest of time in the King George's chapel, nestling in the grounds of her beloved Windsor Castle.

It is hard to describe the events of the last 5 days, where she welcomed the new Prime Minister, and although she looked so frail, no one expected her pass on quite so swiftly. It has given me time to stop, pause and reflect on just what an impact this fantastic Queen, mother, and world-wide icon had not simply in this great nation, but around the world. It was inevitable that a lady at the great age of 96 would ultimately “cross over the Jordan” as general Sir Bernard Montgomery used to say. However, it is almost as though no one really considered a world without her, but here today, the finality of her last journey is impacting on the nation, as thousands of people pay their final respects. As I witness this historic milestone, I can hear the church bells of my village church ring out reflecting the beginning of her majesties last journey, as the bells toll across the length and breadth of the British Isles.

The deep well of emotion and affection for the Queen has been reflected around the world. It is almost as though she was everybody’s Queen, the one constant representative of good solid values, a life devoted to duty, against a world that has changed beyond all description in her 96 years, 70 of which she served as Monarch.

I myself never met her but I saw her up close and personal when she and Prince Philip attended the wedding of Winston Churchill's son, at Hereford Cathedral. Myself and and ispector Dave Inman, stood along with many others, as her majesty left the car, which was flying the Royal Ensign, reflecting her stature as the head of state. We all felt a little bit special that day, as we had been honoured for a few moments to be in the company of this truly remarkable lady.

I have never known anything else in my 62 years on this planet, other than the Queen just being there. It has been hard to contemplate that she has finally gone. However, I have to say that I have been very impressed about the way that King Charles III has exemplified enormous dignity and duty as he has coped with the loss of his beloved mother, as well as the actuality of finally fulfilling his destiny to be King at the age of 73. Indeed, the longest apprenticeship ever served. I believe that he will be an excellent monarch, as he straddles that great challenge ahead of retaining the monarchy's relevance in a world of changing values and expectations. The nations future is in safe hands, as King Charles and Camilla the Queen Consort, step up to fulfil their historic roles.

The passing of the life of her Majesty has made me reflect on mortality and my own journey living with cancer, as I prepare for my 73rd treatment of chemotherapy next week. I have actually had a break from chemo for 6 weeks, as I was due to have a hip replacement operation take place last week. In preparation for that my wonderful oncologist Dr Peter Correa had proposed that ahead of the operation my old bones should be allowed a break to deal with the implication of the surgery.

As it happens, due to the 25cm blood clot that has moved into a small bungalow in my upper left thigh, it meant that there were complications that could impact on the surgery, namely a risk that a part of the blood clot might break free and enter the main arteries, should they then latch onto the lungs, or heart, then that would be fatal. Game over. As it happens, a recent scan on the blood clot revealed that the clot has actually solidified, a rare thing, but on the positive, the more stable it is, the less risk of anything bad happening during surgery. Indeed, Nuffield health suggested that they may not be prepared to allow the surgery, mostly because they do not have any intensive care units at their private hospitals. Consequently, they were concerned that they might be at risk of litigation should I meet my maker in their hands.

As usual, nothing is simple with me, but on the positive, I will hopefully have the surgery early next year, as I notice that my mobility varies day by day. Some days I limp quite badly, the next day I will do an hour of hard training on the bike at the gym.

My Karate has obviously been affected in so much as my flexibility has been obviously impacted, some stances I cannot do, nor can I kick with my left leg, but you simply have to adapt, and I have. If I cannot demonstrate a technique, then I am fortunate enough to have very capable senior Dan grades who can perform the technique. Indeed, I look forward after surgery, to being able to get back some of that flexibility that my arthritis has eroded. So, members of Enso Shotokan Karate Club, get yourselves ready for that happy day!

So, on a day of sombre reflection, as the nation pays its final respects, I will be holding a minutes silence at my dojo this afternoon, in reflection of the very deep affection that both myself and my family held her majesty, across her long and noble reign. One final thought that brings me great solace: my very dear mum died in December last year at the grand old age of 94, as an only child she always used to say that she regarded the Queen as the big sister that she never had. Well who knows, hopefully she finally got to meet her big sister….Rest In Peace Ma’am.

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