Today I was privileged enough to be able to visit my parents who currently live an hour away in Southport. We had a blustery day by the sea and even managed an ear-ache inducing walk on the pier. One of the most memorable aspects of my day was a precious half an hour spent with my Godmother.

‘GAP’ for short (or Great Aunty Pam for long) has been a permanent fixture in the landscape of my life for as long as I can remember. She accompanied us on many holidays to the beach mission we frequented every year as children and was a regular visitor to my Grandparents’ home.

It was GAP, a great music lover, who first introduced me to one of my real passions in life – Oratorio. She took me to see Handel’s Messiah a couple of times as a very young child and got me hooked on orchestral choral works. I joined the Liverpool Welsh Choral Union Choir as a direct result of these early experiences and still treasure the music we sung in the lovely Philharmonic in Liverpool.

It was with immense sadness that I witnessed this long-standing family friend in the condition I found her today. I have not seen her for a number of years. Completely riddled with MS, Pam is now bed-ridden and totally reliant on 24 hour nursing care. I ached inside to see her so physically helpless, her sight desperately poor and her personal care in the hands of strangers.

But rather than hearing her complain, she greeted me with a tearful yet joyful expression that left me overwhelmingly humbled.
‘Emma, I think of you and pray for you every day..”

I must confess I was surprised. But something about her earnest face, swollen by years of medication and struggling to maintain the smile she greeted me with, told me her words were incredibly genuine. She then proceeded to remark on various aspects of my life with clarity and accuracy… “Isn’t it great that the boys all got into one school? Is Jon enjoying the new job?’… I felt amazed. Her sense of humour, sharp mind and incredible memory were beautifully intact.

I had gone to visit her thinking it would be a ‘nice’ thing for me to do, to cheer her up… but I ended up feeling ‘given to’ by the experience. I am so grateful for those in my life who pray for me, those who take an interest in what I do and what I think. It humbles me that someone in constant pain who needs a magnifying glass to look at my photograph refuses to lie back and feel sorry for herself. In my book, GAP has truly earnt the first part of her name.