Mum would have celebrated her eighty-seventh birthday earlier this week. Tomorrow it will be two months since she left us to be with Jesus, just in time to beat the coronavirus lockdown here in the UK. Sadly, lockdown has meant that Dad is spending his days alone. He gets out to walk and shop as despite his age there are no underlying health conditions to prevent such excursions. My father is not a man who I ever remember being ill, although I believe that ingrowing toenails meant that he escaped square bashing during his basic training in the Royal Navy. Those toenails resulted in Dad being transferred to a Naval Hospital in Portsmouth for an operation. Thereafter Dad remained in Portsmouth where he met Mum at church. The rest as they say is history. Seven years after my parents met, Dad, as the newly ordained (and newly married) Rev Welford, was appointed as minister to two churches in rural Gloucestershire.
I joined my parents the following year, born just before midnight in the local maternity hospital. I have no memories of the first two years of my life in that small Gloucestershire village. But I do remember Plymouth, where we lived from 1959 until 1962. My memories of Plymouth are mainly confined to interactions with my Dad. We must have had a lot of conversations. I also remember the neighbours and the front wheel coming off my tricycle. I remember the three of us sharing a Cornish pasty when we were shopping in the city centre, and I remember the first of my sisters being born. But I don’t seem to be able to recall any early memories of my mother.
If you asked about my favourite memory of my mother then I would share a memory from the week that she left us. Obviously, the memory of that last day and being with Mum in the hospital as her breathing slowed and finally stopped will never fade. But my favourite memory of Mum is the discovery of Mum’s prayer journal by one of my sisters. Dad had no idea that Mum was keeping a record of her prayer times. Each day had a single line summary. Reading through the journal filled me with pride for the woman of God my mother had become. I had particularly noticed changes in Mum after they retired to Devon but it was only through reading Mum’s prayer journal that I realised how profound Mum’s spiritual growth had been in retirement when the amount of time available to Mum to be still before God increased.
Memories are important. It is good to find time to remember. It is even more important to find time for God. Like Mum I keep a journal and have done for twenty-one years. Looking back through my journals reminds me of much that I might otherwise have forgotten such as answers to prayer and ways in which God has spoken to me, challenged me and guided me. My journals (I am currently on book forty-six) also trace my spiritual journey reminding how much I have grown, and also reminding me how much further I have to travel.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Corinthians 13: 11-12 (NKJV)