Wednesday, May 15, 2013

In Memory of Eileen

You may familiar with the policy of some workplaces of insisting that you change your password every so often.  I can see the sense in it.  It is all too easy for some people spending far too much of their time hacking into a computer and adding things or taking away things that they shouldn’t.  It makes sense to change your password.

A while ago a friend shared with me that she used Bible verses as her password.  It was a great way of reminding yourself of God’s word.

At the beginning of last week my computer insisted that I changed my password.  It had been Eph2:10 - “We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus, to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The next five minutes or so were spent trying to change my password to other great and memorable verses – Matt11:28, John3:16, Isaiah 61:1, Jer31:31 – every attempt was met with the computer telling me that I had already used that password.  I was getting stressed out.  The computer seemed to be frowning at me in disgust that I apparently didn’t know any other verses of the Bible. 

Finally I settled on EileenFox!  The computer sighed happily and let me through the cyber door.  Every morning as I type in EileenFox! Into the computer, I admit to smiling.  I bring to mind the smile on her face and I hear her voice in my head.  The voice says, “Ooo, I do love you, Melanie.”  It will only be a voice that I hear in my head now – unless you start saying it to me.  My world is a quieter place now.

Just as using Bible verses was supposed to remind me of God’s word, EileenFox! reminds me of many things.

I am known to grumble in certain places that visits from my family are too few.  Mum was quite a frequent visitor to Inverness.  Sometimes she came up on the train with my sister, Carla.  The most recent time she came up was by flying to Inverness airport with my brother Richard.  One summer many years ago she came up a day or two after I was taken into the hospital in Inverness with a deep vein thrombosis.  She never missed a day visiting me.  She went from bed to bed talking to every patient in the ward and chatting to all the nurses and doctors as well.  She and my husband Joe bonded during that week.  I think that somewhere in the back of her mind she was almost convinced she gave birth to him and I was the in-law.

She made friends easily.  She talked to people about her family, about the blind club, about church and her faith in God. She talked to people she met for the first time as if she had known them for years. 

Mum was loved by two very different and remarkable men.  Charles Wilkinson adored my mum and taught her everything she knows when it came to cooking.  She said of him that there was never a night when she didn’t fall asleep with his arms around her.  David Fox also adored my mum.  He benefitted from everything she had learned about cooking but preferred less spicy food.  There was possibly never a night when she didn’t fall asleep to the sound and rhythm of his snoring.  In losing them, she lost more than a little of her joy and happiness.

She loved children.  She was a children magnet – they were drawn to her.  When we lived in Crick our house was always full of children – not just the six of us but other children in the street.  Summer evenings were spent playing long games of rounders in the playing field at the back of the house.  Bad light often stopped play.  Everyone knew our mum.  As each new generation of children has been born, she loved them all.  If she nagged the new generation of mothers it was because she had been there, learned lessons from experience and wanted to save them from making the same kind of mistakes.

At church she was a part of the crèche team for many years.  It was hard for her when she had to step down because of her ill health.  She still kept her hand in and had a long list of requests for jumpers and cardigans.

Having worn glasses all my life, I know what it is to live life in the fuzzy lane.  For the last six months or so I have been wearing hearing aids so also have an inkling about life in the quiet lane too.  Loosing your sight and your hearing brings its challenges.  I really cottoned on to how bad my mum’s vision was one afternoon in Inverness.  We had driven down to Loch Ness.  There is a garden centre beside the loch.  There are gardens laid out on various terraces with benches looking out and down over Loch Ness.  It’s the perfect spot for Nessie hunting.  We were sitting there with cups of tea, scanning the water for the appearance of a head, or a few tell-tale bumps in the water.  I thought it was “we”.  I pointed out a possible bump in the distance.  That’s when mum confessed she couldn’t see anything.  Loch Ness in the summer sunshine was a grey blur. 

Whatever she didn’t see in the physical world I am convinced that God opened her eyes to the spiritual world.  She had glorious visions.  She saw waterfalls and rainbows in such vivid colours.  There is a cross stich picture in the hall of mum’s flat – the work of my sister Carla after mum shared with her some of the things she could see.

Mum’s chosen craft was not cross stitch.  She was a knitter.  In her later years I spent many an hour home from Scotland, counting stitches for her, taking rows back to catch dropped stitches. If ever my mum’s knitted jumpers, Easter chicks, Christmas tree crackers, boots and blankets ever became collector’s items they would not be difficult to find.  My one regret is that she discovered her Humpty-Dumpty pattern long after I had left Secondary School.  I don’t think she ever brought her knitting with her when she visited us in Inverness.  She didn’t really need to as there was a wool shop just a few streets away.  It is with pride that I adopt her knitting needles and hope to put them to good use.

My mum was a courageous woman.  When times were difficult she responded with humour.   It wasn’t that she thought light of all her problems, but the alternative to laughing is crying and sometimes once you start crying you can’t stop.  Her faith was a source of strength.  She prayed often. 

Another way of coping with difficult times was by singing…or humming.  The humming was very noticeable in my car when she was in the passenger seat. I would like to think I am not a reckless driver, but there are perhaps times when I lose my concentration.  The humming took on a slightly desperate note at those times.

These are some of my memories – you all have your own.  Take time to talk to each other and share them.  Most of you met my mum in the autumn or the winter of her life – if you want to know what she was like in the spring and the summer – see her in her children, her grandchildren and her great grandchildren.  She has left a deposit of herself in each of us.

I am perhaps not the best one qualified to tell you what my mum was like.  I moved away from home and went far away.  I want to personally thank my brother, Richard, and my sisters Carla and Sharon, my sister in law, Linda and my brother in law, Paul, for taking good care of my mum.  I also want to thank my niece, Kelly and her husband Kenny for all the shopping trips and keeping a loving eye on her.  I want to thank the great grandchildren for trying to teach Nan to skip – they kept her young at heart. I want to thank the members of mum’s church for loving and serving her and for allowing her to love and serve you. 

I want to thank you all for joining with my family to remember and celebrate my mum’s life.

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