The birds were up in Alvechurch and singing lustily at 4.30 a.m., I can attest to it! Perhaps they started even earlier, but that, at least, was when their songs first penetrated my sleepy brain.
I lay in the dark for a while. My alarm was set for 5.00 a.m. and I decided that I could afford a few more minutes to think and to listen. The birds deserved an appreciative audience.
I sent scattered thanksgivings to God, wondering how I could possibly cover everything. There was so much to be grateful for.
So began my day of leaving England on Tuesday.
A short time later, I was dressed and my suitcase closed. I had 30 precious minutes to spend with Mum before Robert took me to Birmingham Airport.
Her room was still in darkness, with the curtains closed, when I gently entered. She was lying there awake already though.
“Oh,” she said, in apparent amazement, “How did you get here?”
We soon sorted out the source of the temporary confusion. Mum thought that I’d left the night before and that our kiss goodnight was my goodbye.
“Oh, dear, isn’t it terrible?” she said, at the thought of her mix up, “All night long I was thinking of you on your journey. I thought that you must be almost home now.”
I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad that she had another goodbye to say. We are both experts in saying goodbye bravely, but in spite of that it is never easy.
The time came at last. “Mum,” I said, “I am putting you in God’s hands now.” Mum nodded, comforted.
“And you can put me in God’s hands too,” I said, to another nod from Mum.
Then a wonderful thought occurred to me. “Hey Mum! We are both in the same pair of hands.”
There was something infinitely, wonderfully comforting and reassuring in that thought.
I have a plaque with a pair of nail pierced hands, outstretched in invitation. I bought it thirty years ago for Tante Corrie, Mum’s eldest sister.
And as she suffered courageously, through a long battle with breast cancer, she said to me often, “I know in whose hands I am.”
I feel that maybe she was close to me this morning, my dear aunt; giving me a special hug from heaven just when I needed it most.
It is the price of being loved, and loving much, this pain in the heart, at parting..