• Austin Birks

Reflections On Life And Death In 2022

So, my dear chums, a new year is already upon us and can you believe it, we are already in February. Not sure where January went, but hey ho, it’s all good. Immediate reflections are many and varied. Frankly, out of nowhere, Russia is planning a potential invasion of Ukraine with a side salad of world war 3. Frankly, I had thought this nonsense was history, but no, apparently not. Having spent my baby boomer childhood waiting for the hammer to fall from Russian Warsaw Pact nations ready to obliterate the world with nuclear weapons, here we are 40 years on back to square one. Clearly, we learn nothing.


In addition, party-gate rumbles on with a Prime Minister Bojo, a man who one of my old trade union friends used to say is a man who has more faces than Big Ben, and who could not lie straight in bed, but still the stupids continue to believe, cheered on by the likes of Michael Gove and Lord Haw- Haw himself, Toff Spice Mr Rees-Mogg. God, give me strength.


As for me, this year has already contained a unique bittersweet, as last Friday my mother was buried at a simply wonderful requiem mass in Abingdon in Oxford. It was a great celebration and reflection on a great and good life well lived. She was quite simply a lovely person who was sustained all her life by a great and deep faith. And that was her moral code for living her life. She always saw the best in people, and like a magnet, she drew people to her, and everyone loved her as a result. It was of course tinged with sadness, but the eulogies and reflections truly and genuinely did her and the family proud. Well done Chris and Matt.


Death is a strange thing, we all fear it but at the same time we all know it will come to us all. If honest, since cancer I have completely changed my logic and approach to the end of life. I don’t really think that I am scared of it, partly because I don’t believe myself that end of life means the end of the journey. And also, because I have come to realise that life is shallow, and that wealth and material things mean nothing at all, and in truth they don’t. This nonsense is nothing but a shell and what matters is the footprint that you leave when you are gone. In truth, my mums life showed me that and it has reinforced my simple view that life is a gift to be lived to the full.


That is why I am of the view that every day is a chapter, to be lived fully and to the maximum, if not what is life for? We all conform and do the stuff expected because well, its expected, which is fine but to be blunt when you realise that your days are numbered why waste time on nothing that matters? That is why we brought a campervan (absolutely no chance before cancer) and we brought a dog (absolutely no chance before cancer), and that is why sometimes on a Friday, we just drive off to God knows where, to do God knows what, but who cares point is its is living life.


And what a gift that is; two things we have, life, and time, and trust me neither last for ever so embrace these great gifts. Once they have gone, what do we have left? And as was famously said, no one ever said as they lay on their death bed, oh dear, I just wish I had spent more time at work… So, my dear chums, be inspired to be bold and courageous and do things and experience the beauty of life, something that my lovely mum taught me and those she touched in her rich, and positive life.

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