As a small child uncle Jack was one of my heroes; the man could do no wrong in my eyes. I loved spending time with him. Why? I haven’t the foggiest idea, but that’s just how it is sometimes when you’re a kid.
Uncle Jack could turn his hand to anything; he was a plasterer by trade, but when it came to building work, Uncle Jack was your man. Mother and father always used him when it came to alterations and repairs in our house, and when mother announced that she would like a fitted kitchen like the ones she’d seen in the magazines, we all knew that uncle Jack would be doing the work.
He arrived one afternoon during the summer holidays, with a truck full of tools and equipment. It wasn’t long before he set to work. Mother and father were out and there was only my brothers and myself at home. We were in the lounge next to the kitchen were he was working, listening to the latest records that my brothers had purchased with money they had earned from doing paper rounds.
We had to turn the volume up full to drown out the noise of hammering coming from the next room.
Bang, bang, bang. “Give me a shout when I’m through!” Uncle Jack jokingly hollered over the Beatles ‘Please, Please Me.’
We all shouted in unison, “You’re through!”
Uncle Jack came running into the lounge, only to find out that we’d been pulling his leg. “Don’t do that, you almost gave me a heart attack,” he said returning to his hammering.
Bang, bang, bang, “You’re through now,” we shouted, as we noticed a slight bulge in the dividing wall.
Bang, bang, bang. My brother turned the music down and called again, just as a piece of three by two came through the wall, sending wall paper, brick and plaster cascading down on mother’s new settee.
“You can’t get me to fall for it twice!” Uncle called back.
We just shrugged and turned the music back up.
“One of us should go and tell him, I don’t think that he meant that to happen,” I said.
But before we could say anything my uncle came into the room.
“What the hell!” he yelled, “Why didn’t you tell me that I’d come through the wall?”
“We did,” we said, hardly able to keep a straight face.
By the time mother and father arrived home from work, the hole had been repaired and my uncle could see the funny side of things.
“I’ll cover the cost of that wall re-decorating Vera,” uncle told my mother.
But she wouldn’t hear of it, and booked him there and then to re-decorate the entire room.
Some weeks after all the work was finished, my brother and I were laying on the living room floor. We had an open fire in those days, and I have to say that the younger of my bothers was a bit of a fire bug.
“Let’s turn the lights out and bank the fire up, we’ll see how long it takes for this Dinky car to go up in flames,” he said excitedly.
We lay on the rug watching the rubber tyres melt; the whole thing seemed to be taking forever, so we turned our attentions to something else.
“Let’s play shooting,” I said.
Father had bought my brothers air riffles, and I’d been given a set of pistols that fired bullets with black rubber suckers on the end. We lay on our backs, loaded the pistols, licked and fired them at the ceiling. They stuck for a while and then the heat of the fire dried out our spit and they fell back down. The one who’s bullet stayed up the longest was the winner.
We were happy shooting away when there was a large pop; the coals on the fire had collapsed and the Dinky car was lost into the flames.
“Come on; its bed time for you,” my brother informed me, standing up and turning on the light.
We both let out a gasp. Mother’s newly decorated snow white ceiling was peppered with black rings from the rubber suckers.
“We’re in for it now!” my brother warned.
“Let me stay up, or I’ll tell mummy that you made me do it,” I cried, aways looking for ways to stay up late.
“O.K, but you mustn’t tell, with any luck she won’t look up.”
We got away with it for weeks and when mother did notice the black rings on the ceiling she couldn’t for the life of her work out what had happened. She knew that we had something to do with it, but we all played dumb, denying all knowledge and the subject was dropped. Once again uncle Jack was on top of the job,
“It looks like someone has been firing rubber darts at this ceiling,” he said with a wink and a grin in my direction and out of earshot of mother.
Over the years, I’ve had some tremendous highs and devastating lows. Sometimes the lows seem to descend upon me like those black marks on the ceiling, one little mark at a time until I’m overwhelmed by them. Other times, its like when I fell into the wine cellar. (See ‘Down The Hole But No White Rabbit’). It’s as if I’m falling into a black hole at great speed.
As a Christian I’m told over and over again that I have the victory over my feelings and that I shouldn’t feel this way. Yes, I have the victory and I’m a mighty warrior of the most high God, but there are times when I have to go into battle and fight. There are times that the fight is over quickly, and other times when it’s a war and can last days. My old self might turn to the bottle at this point, my new self has turned to the Lord and asked “Why am I going through this and what can I learn from it?”
D.H could never understand people, (especially “Christians”) suffering from depression. He had a “Give it to God, get a grip,” kind of attitude. Then when I was away at a ladies conference the fiery black darts hit him. He was down in the pit for days with what looked like no way out. We prayed, talked and he shared about his feelings, and eventually he came round. He believes that through that experience God has given him empathy with others suffering from the blues. He now knows that it is a battle that we have the victory over, but we might be on the battlefield longer than we would like.
The black circles on the ceiling were also like the sin marks on the ceiling between myself and God. From a distance in dim light they were almost invisible, but in the full light of day they are there for all to see. The Bible says that God is light, He can see all things and nothing we do is hidden — nothing! We may be able to fool others and even ourselves, but we can’t fool God. My drinking, I told myself was a way of coming down after a hard week. The reality of it was, that my week was made harder by my drinking, plus depression found its way into my sprit far easier when I was inebriated. No warrior would attempt to go into battle drunk and expect to win, so why did I think that I could??
(Psalm 55:22) Cast all of your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you.
If you feel like you’d like to talk about any of the above, just drop me a line. I’m no expert, but we might be able to help each other.