Today; the day of Mum's funeral is coming to an end here in England.
I can't adequately thank all who were praying that I would be able to speak out the words I wanted to share in tribute to her.
God answered those prayers, and although emotion filled my voice at times, I didn't choke up completely and I was able to honour her as I wanted so much to do. I am so grateful!
I will write more in the days ahead as I am able; but for tonight, here is my tribute to Mum:
As a family, we want to thank everyone who has come to share this day with us. Some have traveled a very long way and your presence and support means so much.
There are many members of our family in Canada, Holland and Spain; as well as friends; who were unable to be here, but are with us in thought and prayer today.
We are here to celebrate someone who was a wonderful mother, loving Omie and treasured friend.
The most important thing in Mum's life was the people she loved. Her many trips across the North Sea to Holland and the Atlantic Ocean to Canada were because of her deep love of family. She taught us that distance is just something to be crossed in order to be with those you love. As a result, Rob and I grew up knowing and loving our large extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins in Holland.
Later, our Canadian family and friends also knew and loved Mum and she kept in touch with us all between visits, with long and frequent letters!
Mum showed us that friendships can last for a lifetime. Her friends from the 1940's: Auntie May and tante Mies; have been special people in our lives and their friendships flowed into a second generation of treasured relationships, which continue.
Cheerfulness, a positive outlook and a great sense of humour were key ingredients of Mum's personality. Her life was not without challenges, but throughout, we laughed a lot and when we think of her we will smile at the memory of many funny stories. We learned from her that while circumstances are not always in our control, we can always choose our perspective and attitude.
She taught us by her example to appreciate the many small things that have excitement potential. In fact, "Isn't it exciting?" was an expression we heard often. And with Mum--it was!
She gave her heart completely to those she loved--unconditionally and unselfishly. She accepted people as they were and believed the best of them. She was kind, gentle and a peacemaker. Her warmth drew people to her.
Mum had a strong faith that comforted and strengthened her throughout her life and she prayed for us faithfully. As Rob and I have slowly gone through the many bits of paper Mum saved over the years, we found many footprints of faith: hymns that were special to her, or scriptures, tucked away.
I'm so grateful that Paul and I were able to spend two perfect weeks here in January, in which we shared some very special moments.
Towards the end of our time here, I thought of all of the partings we had over the years. It was sometimes painful to say goodbye when we loved each other so much, even though we always chose to focus on gratitude and looking forward to when we would meet again.
On January 26, I wrote in my journal about saying goodbye:
"Now it is different. I leave Mum in loving hands; those of Rob and her carers. I know that she is loved and cherished. We still focus on gratitude for what we have been given and there is still "next time;" we can count on that; whether God grants it here, or whether it's at heaven's gates, where one of us will one day wait for the other." I had no idea that just six weeks later, Mum would beat me there!
It seems fitting to close these thoughts with words from a note I left for Mum after one of my visits here:
I can't begin to thank you for all that you are to us. Our time together has gone so fast, but the happy memories will remain. I will be cherishing many in my heart until we meet again. Remember how much we love you...