There can be little doubt that the highlight of my week was the 21st birthday party of my grand-nephew Michael, the second oldest grandchild of my older brother, the undoubted doyen of Scottish sports journalism. Michael is quite severely autistic and his parents, my niece and her husband, are at the top of the list of people I admire for their extraordinary commitment and dedication, but most of all for their tremendous love and care for Michael and for their daughter, Maria, the oldest of the doyen’s grandchildren. In her teaching career my niece has specialised in autism and is well thought of in the field. She is also a relentless fundraiser for the cause, aided and abetted by her father, and with the kind support of some of his sporting contacts. The big birthday was last Friday, but the party was on the Saturday night. People gathered from both our family and my niece’s husband’s family, which also numbers a priest from among its members. We had to wait for Michael though, because one of his unbreakable routines is that his dad brings him out for a take-away treat on a Saturday night. There are a number of places where he likes to go, but he never decides until they are in the car and on the road, so, for his dad, it’s always a magical mystery tour where Michael calls the shots. The rest of us enjoyed a potluck meal with a variety of homemade dishes that were all equally delicious. I had rice with a portion of vegetable curry, chilli con carne, and some kind of chicken dish. I then went back for seconds and threw a mini pizza on top of it as well. For some strange reason I didn’t sleep great that night. Once Michael had also enjoyed his take-away the high point of the evening was when, not one, but two magnificent birthday cakes were brought in for Michael to blow out the candles, to rousing choruses of Happy Birthday to You, and For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow. We can never be sure how Michael might react to such attention, but last Saturday he just seemed to be in his element. He reigned supreme from his personal recliner, with a great smile on his face, a smile that grew even bigger when there was a huge round of applause at his puffing out of the candles. At that stage I was beginning to excuse myself as I had Masses and Baptisms next day, but it was a great celebration and one which will be long remembered.
I was in good form for a celebration as a couple of things that had been causing me a bit of minor anxiety and stress had been resolved in the days before. One was an electrical inspection of my younger brother’s house, the brother for whom I am the primary carer. The letter had requested access to the control panel, and to all the sockets and switches in the house. My brother, being a hoarder over many, many years, of books, comics, CD’s, video cassettes, DVD’s and magazines, had given me quite a task creating a clear path to everything, which I, more or less, managed to do, but, when the day came, the inspector did everything from the control panel in the hall, together with his handheld computer, and it transpired that everything was fine. All the hard work I had done, for which I think I’m getting too old, seemed to be in vain, but it was good exercise, and I lost a bit of weight, which was no harm. The other anxiety was around the Accounts programmes for the Parish and the Passionists that a glaring message on the dedicated laptop informed us needed to be upgraded, but which was showing some resistance to being upgraded. As many people know, I am a luddite when it comes to such things and I put out a few cries for help in various directions. In the end, it was our own parish webmaster who, with great patience and determination, resolved the issue, much to my relief and sincere gratitude.
Out at Bishopbriggs we are all doing fine, Father John enjoyed his few days in Minsteracres last weekend; Father Gareth is getting his teeth into his new chaplaincy role; Father Justinian remains well and content. I have just had my flu jab and Covid booster with no ill effects.
as always, protect yourselves, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.