Wednesday, February 02, 2011

turning eighty

It is eighty years today since the Napier earthquake - so that means my mum must be turning eighty today too.

And that she is...

I've always loved being introduced by reference to my relationships. Joseph's Dad. Diane's brother. Barby's husband. Someone's teacher. Rachel's boss. Martin's friend. Someone's principal. You get the idea. Well - nothing in all the world beats being introduced as "Gwennie's boy" - and here are some of the reasons why:

There is a devotion about my mum
From a distance our family heritage looks a bit patriarchal. I used to think that myself. But it isn't. It is filled with strong women - mostly mothers - who have known the power and privilege associated with being devoted to their (many!) children and chosen to influence the world for good and for God through that devotion. Across the generations, I reckon my mum is the shining example at the center of our family. A stable, loving home marked by deep convictions and clear boundaries. What more could a child need and want? She is the embodiment of a Deuteronomy 6.5-7 spirituality.

There is a purity about my mum
I was going to stick with 'without guile', but earlier today my sister used this word 'pure'. It is so true. When we were younger we laughed mercilessly at one side of this coin - the naivete and the gullibility of my mum. As we've got older we have admired the other side - the see-through-ness feature of mum, the can't-think-ill-of-anyone quality about mum, the its-a-wicked-world-hatred-of-evil lifestyle of mum. With my mum, what you see and hear is really what you get. She is the embodiment of a James 1.27 spirituality.

There is a goodness about my mum
It was interesting to hear her talk today of her own mum. "She didn't push us to achieve at school academically, or excel in other areas - she just wanted us to be good." That was quite a revelation. It is true of mum herself and it is true of what she has tried to pass on. Every day we'd go off to school with the following words ringing in our ears: "be good, be kind, be true - and look after the lonely ones". Actually, it is not a bad way to live. She is the embodiment of a Philippians 4.8 spirituality.

There is a selflessness about my mum
It is not just the servant-heartedness, it is the quiet and unassuming manner in which she continues to serve, particularly my father in these latter years. She is the ultimate in open-home hospitality - and I should know as my teenage home in Delhi was the transit house for the mission. Whether it was attending to me as a bed-wetter until an embarassing age, or attending to my Barby during a horrendous miscarriage - or simply weeding the neighbour's garden, her life has always been turned to the other. She is the embodiment of a Romans 12.3 spirituality.

There is a simplicity about my mum
There is a simplicity in the lifestyle she embraces. There are no adornments. Nothing lavish in the home. There is also a simplicity about her faith. I was nurtured on 'trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus'. I heard it said and I saw it lived. And she loves Jesus. We heard today how as a little girl she would swing on the gate singing, "Everybody ought to know, Everybody ought to know, Everybody ought to know who Jesus is". Every year everyone in the family receives a card with a Bible verse in it where the number of years (in age) are matched precisely with the number of words in the verse. That says so much at so many levels. She is the embodiment of a Proverbs 3.5-6 spirituality.

There is an enthusiasm about my mum
When I asked my boys what comes to mind when they think of grandma, Martin immediately responded with "zeal - she just keeps going and going". It's true. Oh, the energy. She's robust. She's spunky. The photos of her as a girl reveal so much fun. The courtship and marriage photos reveal a joy. In more recent years there has been the pairing-up of grandchildren for weekends away ... and now that bless-ed camera of hers. She is the embodiment of an Isaiah 40.30-31 (the very verses her mum gave me for every birthday!) spirituality.

Yep - when I grow up, I want to be like my mum.
(NB - this photo with my mum taken on the day)

nice chatting


PS - A little tribute to my Dad when he turned eighty can be found here.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely fantastic! Happy Birthday Mrs W!

not a wild hera said...

I LOVE reading about your parents, Paul! What a heritage!

On a different note, someone wrote to NatRad this afternoon to say his granddad had always felt responsible for the Napier earthquake. He and a friend were asked by the chaplain to open the church doors after chapel. They were stuck, so he naughtily kicked the door open, and immediately the whole wall split in two as the earthquake began...

the art of unpacking said...

Actually, 'not a wild hera' (aka tkr)

... I remember well your comment when I wrote about my Dad on his 80th. You said something about how you were looking forward to the one on my mother when she turns eighty! I didn't forget.

And then when I discovered that picture of Mum playing cricket with my Dad - which says so much about her - there was no holding me back.

It looks like the Napier earthquake might have been a joint action/reaction! Plus I thought it was cool that the Pink Terraces were rediscovered on her 80th because I remember hearing about them as a wide-eyed little boy from my mum and wishing I could jump in a time tunnel...