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Kidney for Christmas – Silent Night

Kidney for Christmas – Silent Night

It was Saturday 24th December 1966. A young 10-year-old blond boy of very modest background, wearing hand-me-downs from relatives as his parents had little spare to spoil their children, was coming home from a morning at the local Odeon cinema in Kingsbury.

He had been there with his younger sister, cousin and friends and they were happily returning home. They passed by Kingsbury Manor where John Logie Baird’s experimental television transmissions were sent, and by Kingsbury open-air swimming pool, which has long since gone. They reached Roe Green and crossed the road ascending Highfield Avenue until a green-black car pulled up and his grandfather called out in his deep cockney accent to get in. His grandfather was untypically quiet and looked serious but the kids just climbed in and were driven to their home at 40 Summit Avenue where they got out. The boy went to the open door.

On arrival, he witnessed his mother totally break down and cry profusely as she was told her older sister and his Godmother Gwendoline had passed away. His mother was distraught, crying her eyes out uncontrollably. The young boy stared in silence.

The boy slowly went inside the house and into the living room, where a magnificent Christmas tree was shining and glittering. The boy crawled under the fir tree and lay on the fallen needles with his eyes wide open in deep shock. Outside in the street, the Salvation Army had arrived and began playing “Silent Night” (Stille Nacht), the famous German Christmas carol. The boy shed many a tear. This was not the Christmas present a small ten-year-old boy had wished for. He reflected. He knew his aunt was ill. His aunt had not been given dialysis to clean her liver. She had not been chosen and she was taken from us. This deeply moved the young boy who slowly shed tears but could still feel the love of his Godmother. The realities of Santa Claus and the birth of Christ from that moment on had a different meaning for this simple child and eldest of five surviving siblings.

There was no Kidney for Christmas.

This child is now a grown man in the autumn of his life and he is always drawn to immense emotion when he hears Stille Nacht. Indeed, he is unable to sing it himself, however hard he tries, as it triggers the tears of memory for someone who loved him immeasurably.

Gwendoline was, in fact, my aunt and Godmother and a beautiful and sincere soul who gave me much. My mother was often pregnant and so Aunt Gwen was often my surrogate mother. She is now one of the brilliant stars in the night sky along with my mother, father, their siblings and my Godmother’s daughter and my cousin Diane who sadly passed away this year. These wonderful relatives continue to guide me on my path placing love and understanding before all else for the “Greater Good!”

Catholics celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 24 and Protestants on December 25. The Orthodox Eastern Churches mark the birth of Christ on January 7th. The truth is, nobody knows when Jesus was born. The Christians seem to have chosen the winter solstice as just the right day, although no date is given in the Bible.

However, Christmas, the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, is much more than a simple date. It reflects a time of sinful reflection on the key points we should value as human beings: love, peace, family, friends, giving and receiving. That should be our code every day, not just the traditional Yule Tide. My godmother Gwendoline, my aunt and sister of my mother was such a person. She gave, not only at Christmas but often. She served her community and gave to the needy during the Second World War. She also gave me a lot.

In the spirit of Gwen and all my fine relatives, I ask all to internalize these values and to stand up for the good of all.

Thank you Gwen and RIP.

Your Godson

John