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By Belinda

I leave England today, if the cloud of volcanic ash allows. I take with me a heart full of treasured memories.

I arrived to find Mum incredibly well. She amazes me with her continued recovery of ability to communicate her thoughts. She had a stroke in October 2003, and although I initially heard that after 2 years a person's recovery reaches a plateau, we never found that to be the case for Mum, who continues to happily surprise us. In great part, I am sure this is due to Rob's company, conversation, and loving care, as well as Mum's attitude on life, and God's goodness.

Interestingly, just before I left Canada, I finished listening to an audio book I had borrowed from the library, My Stroke of Insight by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. Dr. Jill is a brain scientist who suffered an exploding blood vessel in her brain. Her book, written over her 8 year recovery, was fascinating and contained so much excellent information. Her experience of long, continued recovery has been our experience too.

Mum continues to find it hard to express complex thoughts, although I know she has a deep thought life and understands everything going on around her. Sometimes she tries so hard to say something that just won't come out. But at these times she just laughs, shrugs and lets it go, with a smile in her eyes.

Since her stroke, Mum's spiritual life is simple. She no longer reads or prays, but she knows God. When I am here, one of the rituals we have is praying together once she is in bed, with me doing the praying and Mum saying a heartfelt "Amen," at the end. We hold each others hands and at the end, hers squeeze mine in agreement and thanks. We pray for every family member and their needs, and thank God for the wonderful carers he has put in her life.

One day last week, at the end of the prayer she said,, with furrowed brow, "You didn't pray for yourself!"

I laughed and said that it would sound funny to say, "And God, please bless me too."

A few nights later, at the end of our prayer, her hands gripped mine in that final soft squeeze, but her eyes were remained closed. Mum continued the prayer where I had left off; with, "And Lord, please look after my Belinda."

That moment is one of the golden treasures I carry home with me.

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