This sound seemed to echo throughout my being as I sat in front of my blank iPad and considered what my next blog would be about.
Hummmmmmmm………Why was it that this sound always accompanied me when I am sitting quietly, thinking, considering something important.

I could write about my new canine friend, Leah, who shares my home with me or my forest walks or my new brace…No, none of these topics fired my imagination. I decided to take a break and visit my friends on Facebook. Hummmmm or no hummmm, this seemed a far more interesting prospect.

This poem had obviously been waiting for me. I had no sooner turned to Facebook when it leapt out and grabbed me. I couldn’t believe it. It was Humming at me in it’s almost breathless glory.

the older I seem to get
             the less I believe in silence
I’ve become a silence denier
there isn’t any way of escaping it
                                           everywhere I go
a sound is always ringing in my ears
and the quieter I get
           the more I can hear it
and the more it stirs me
the hum of God
I hear it whenever everything else is muted
~ it’s like
but it’s much deeper than that
~ it’s more like
the sound sometimes seems
as if it’s coming from far
                          below my feet
almost like the mantle of the Earth is calling
for me to remember to plant gardens
in every open field I discover
almost like the fire in the core of the planet
is reminding me to burn fearlessly
for a hundred billion years
then sometimes the humming seems
as if it’s coming from the
air above me
almost like my floating guardian angel is
singing a baritone song about my
my coming resurrection
almost like the sound of ten-thousand blue-red
butterflies beating their wings in unison
under a dripping mid-May sky…….

This brilliant poem continues and echoes with resplendence throughout. You must read it. Laugh! This is me giving you an order – YOU MUST READ IT! I haven’t yet told you maybe the important part of the poem, the poet is John Roedel!

John wrote his first item of great significance when he was about eight. He had a massive crush on Stacy, a rosy cheeked girl with cascading blonde hair. He wrote her a story about a horse with the name ‘Dusty Brown Coat’ who yearned to escape from his ranch. Roedel can’t actually remember the whole story excepting that Dusty was devoured by a wolf. Stacy was aghast at this horrifying tale and refused to speak to Roedel for a week. Undaunted Roedel continued to write because he found that it gave him a voice and it seemed to give him a sense of direction. Nowadays John finds that writing gives him great pleasure. As he says: “These days I write for my own mental health. Writing is the one thing I feel truly connected to.”

Before my fall from the State Theatre stage, I also wrote for pleasure. I kept journals and wrote about the exciting processes during rehearsals, thoughts that whirred through my head, my despair when I was out of work. After my accident, when I finally emerged from my coma, my memory had totally disappeared. On re-discovering these journals, they were eye opening for me. It was like looking at the script of a totally foreign person. Things that I had no memory of were laid out before me. Reading over them today, I am amazed at my fluency with language and the magical way words tumbled out of me. What a difference between the Gaynor then and the Gaynor now. Words now play this wonderful game of hide and seek before eventually giving in and toppling out onto my iPad.

John and his wife, Jennifer have three sons, Noah, Riley and Logan. Three years after Noah was born, he was diagnosed with Autism.
“The first seven or eight years of his life were a kind of trench warfare,” said John. “Getting Noah speaking and to be able to do any kind of self care was a major battle. The doctors told us at the beginning that very probably he would have no ability to have any independent living.”

After my fall, the doctors told my parents on leaving hospital, that it would be best to put me into an institution. I would never be able to do anything other than lie in bed, eyes wide open, staring mindlessly at the ceiling.

From 2003 to 2013 John says: “We were just hanging in there, teaching Noah and hoping. But Noah worked so hard, over and over and over. Gradually his bits of independence began to shine through. Noah began to take his “steps” alone and need me less.”

How I relate to Noah.
After my accident, I returned to stay with my parents a 28 year old babe in arms. Not able to walk, talk, hear, having only 40% of my sight, being spastic down my right hand side and having a mental age of a child at times. My parents had to show me what a knife, fork and spoon were for and how to use them. I remember sitting in the bath and screaming at the blood I could see pouring out of me. You can imagine my Mums’s difficulty explaining to her newly deaf daughter the facts of life!

Like John and Jennifer, my parents gradually had to release their protective grip and allow me to discover independent steps myself. I have no doubt that Noah, John and Jennifer went through times of immense frustration. I did. I wanted to go back to the life I used to live in Johannesburg as an actor. Excepting, that life was no more. It took a while to discover the ‘new’ me within my different world.

After the birth of Noah, John fell into a deep dark place. He felt as if he was in this sinister forest from where there was no escape. I know this dark, foreboding place. I also visited it. John did the one thing that came easily to him. He wrote. What better place to express this ‘angst’, this turmoil he was experiencing than through words. He points out that writing is not therapy but it is very therapeutic.
He started having fake conversations with God.
Hey God.
Hey John.
And then the conversations would begin.
John says: “And at first they were just supposed to be silly, funny little things where I would joke about my little crisis of confidence, my spirituality or my lack of faith. And the more I did that, the more I started opening up my life and actual talking about real things. People began reacting to what I had to say. I found that the more I shared of my true self, the more people related and that seemed to spur the connectivity between us.
I have always believed in God. The thing is, I had long held the suspicion that God had stopped believing in me. For me, having faith in God was like trying to catch a salmon in a wide Wyoming river with just my bare hands. I often felt like a bumbling detective looking for clues to the great mystery of spirituality!”

In 2018, John’s book  Hey God. Hey John was published.
I found it a joy to read because so many of his stumbling blocks echoed in my life. And God’s answers were astute, humorous and startling in their accuracy.
John says: “I often couldn’t believe the words that appeared before me as I bashed the keyboard and typed out God’s responses. Was this God actually talking to me or was it the manifestation of some inner wisdom I had no idea that I possessed? Possibly both! One thing I am convinced of is that the advice God gave me was the exact words I needed to hear at that moment.”

How John’s feelings resonated with me. 

We had both had life changing episodes. As a result, we both turned to writing and to bombarding God with questions and thoughts. In 2000 my book My Plunge to Fame was published. In my book, I questioned why God allowed my life to change in such a dramatic manner. I still haven’t discovered the answer but somehow that question has lost it’s relevance! 

I find John’s writing incredibly moving. 

“Whenever I start to get the feeling that I’m becoming twisted up on the inside I sit down and write about all the miracles and magic I have witnessed by walking with my son on his journey with autism. 

He is truly my mentor. 

I wrote this piece two years ago because I needed to read every single word of it at the time. Every word that I scrawled came from a room in my heart I never knew existed. 

Our son’s daily masterclass on courage and perseverance amid the darkest of raging storms has been our shelter. His hope-soaked heart has been my North Star.

This is all such an adventure.

Autism has
taught me
that life isn’t
fixing what
you think that
has been broken

There is
no fixing

There is nothing
to fix

autism isn’t another word
for broken

I swear

there is nothing
to fix
people living with autism
aren’t a leaky

or a car that
has a permanent
check engine light

people living with autism
are not broken 

they are people!

autism isn’t a rubix cube

autism isn’t an escape room

autism is a piece of
exotic stained glass
that reflects the light
of creation in ways
you have never
seen before 

autism is an ancient
language where
sarcasm and insincerity
have no translation

it is the lost tongue of
warm tones and
six hour smiles

it is the language of
hearts sewn on sleeves and
honest raw sentiment

autism is the
inherent language of
humanity where
the only vowels
that are counted
are U & I

I spent years
trying to fix
until I learned
that the person
who needed fixing
was me

my child not only
had to live with
autism but he
also had to live
with my ego

I could not see
true beauty
lies in what
is different

I could not see
our quest for perfection
is the slowest
poison of all

there was no need
to repair a mosaic

there was only
trying to understand my son
by learning his cipher
of autism

it wasn’t about repair

it was about connection

it is about finding
a way to speak to
each other
despite the
static in our
radio signal

it is all about  
building a bridge
between our hearts
that is wide enough
to transport all of
my love for him

it was about
holding his
trembling hands when
he got lost
in our world of
symbols and
subtle glances

it was about showing
up every day
and becoming a
candle even when
I was a sea of dark thoughts

autism has
taught me
that life isn’t
growing a symmetrical garden
of matching red roses

autism taught me
that life is about
watching wildflowers
grow between the cracks
in the pavement

there is no typical
nothing is normal

every person
is a unique creation
that demands to
be honoured

autism taught me
that rainbows are liars

there are millions
more colours to this life
than their are names
to call them

autism isn’t just the colour blue

autism is the colour
of love
and courage
and the soul 

autism isn’t another word
for broken

I swear

As he says: “Every day I wake up and sit down at my keyboard, and with God’s help, little by little, I am pushing open that little door in my heart.”

Like John, I know that feeling so well.