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Today is Joy’s birthday – Joy is the woman who gave me life – and I couldn’t think of a better way of wishing her a happy birthday than by telling you how much she means to me. Especially today, on Resurrection Sunday.

You see, my mother not only gave me life, she gave me my faith too, so it’s a significant day in which to give thanks for life and not just any life, but THIS life.

Joy’s life…

My mother is extraordinary (she’ll probably have a ‘thrombosis’ when she sees I have written this because she hates the limelight) but although my mother is extraordinary, she does not know it, nor does she even realise – I don’t think – the remarkable contribution she has made in mine and my sisters lives and the lives of many, many others. She tries to hide her light under the proverbial … Sorry Mum, today I am shining your light for all to see. *smiles*

My mother was (and still is although in different form) a teacher. Over the years she has shaped and moulded many young lives. “Mrs Cole” was legendary in Westville where we grew up and where she taught for over 18 years. I don’t know how many people have told me how special she is, what an incredible teacher she was. Everybody loved Mrs Cole and wanted to be in Mrs Cole’s class. Growing up my sister and I, although proud, were a bit perplexed, the Mrs Cole we knew at home was strict, with a capital S! Loving and encouraging, yes, but Strict! And it seems the Mrs Cole of the classroom was just the same as the one at home, loving, encouraging and Strict. But, every child knew their boundary and every child knew they were loved as if they were her own.

Growing up I pushed boundaries, I pushed my mothers buttons in so many ways I am surprised she continued to let me live. Given half a chance I would have left school at the earliest opportunity and been a happy-go-lucky-hippy-child, but my mother pushed me and held me to account. She instilled in me a sense of discipline whilst allowing me try everything my young restless heart was desperate to try: Horse riding, ballet, piano, drama, modern dancing … um, recorder… I tried everything and stuck with almost nothing and she let me. She allowed me to explore and to try new things and she encouraged me even though she knew most of these activities would probably be short lived.

One of the greatest gifts my mum gave me aside from my faith, is a love of reading, of books. Both my parents were teachers and so reading featured prominently in our home, reading and learning and I guess my love of learning is the one trait which has stuck over the years. I give my Mum credit for that.

When my father got ill, she nursed him, loved him, supported him. Her own life became about making sure Dad was comfortable and for the 10 years that he struggled with illness my mother became an expert in hospitals, doctors, surgeons, medication, sleep deprivation, all the while maintaining her job as teacher in what were, at the time, extremely difficult conditions. My Dad was her whole life, her best friend and partner and watching him struggle I know was the hardest thing she has ever had to endure. I don’t know how she got through, except to say, she is one tough lady – a tough lady with a heart as soft as butter.

My mother is fun, vivacious and incredibly talented, she laughs out loud often and spontaneously, but she also feels deeply and easily, something not many people are aware of. Her sensitivity, coupled with a love for people, has seen her life turn in these later years to people who are hurting. She has a powerful ministry of her own, she journeys with people in their deepest moments of need, in illness and grief, she holds the hands of those who are dying, lost, lonely and ill and she does it with such love and wisdom that I am often amazed at her strength. She attributes that strength and wisdom to God and I know her faith is what makes her strong enough to cope and sensitive enough to listen, to hold other peoples pain as if it were her own. She has seen her fair share of pain and heartache, yet she uses that experience to help and guide others.

I am proud of my mother – so, so proud. I am proud of her beauty, her strength, her sense of humour, her sensitivity and her profound spiritual wisdom. I am grateful for her presence in my life, her on-going support of me and my ministry. There is no way I could be doing what I am now without her. She has taken in my two little dogs whilst I am at seminary, she supports me materially and spiritually in ways no mother of a child my age (gulp) should have to.

My Mum – I love you. I love your graciousness, your sensitivity and your vulnerability. I thank you for showing me how to laugh, how to ask deep questions, for being patient with my impatient self and for being a bright and beautiful presence in my life.

You bring me ‘Joy’!

Happy, happy birthday!!!!!

With all my love…

Me n Mum