Ben Walker

I’ve heard it is hard work being a mother and that even just one or two children are a handful. So how do you be a mother to thousands – but you just were – you were to me and I saw you doing it first hand with a mother’s love, care and intuition for everyone who came your way.

Recently I came home to find a vase of red, white and blue flowers alongside presents for my upcoming birthday – apparently you had been insistent I had them in good time. I paused for a moment – it was the eve of the Platinum Jubilee so, actually, yes, that made sense – the Queen had no bigger fan than you and you wanted to share the celebration with us and thought you would send my birthday presents at the same time. ‘How lovely!’ Whilst on the royal subject – it wasn’t lost on me that after the literally hundreds of thousands of correspondence you wrote over your life, probably the last email you wrote before you ‘laid your pen down beside the river’, was a beautiful email celebrating the steadfastness of the Queen to her Maker. That had been the key to your life too and one last time you were commending it to us in the most beautiful way. That was how you had covered so much ground, loved so much, loved so many and stood so gently but strong.

My birthday is still a couple of weeks away. You didn’t know you would no longer be with us then. But there we go, even now you’ve done it again – dotted every ‘I’ and crossed every ‘T’ (twice if not three times) and timed it perfectly.

When I open that card there will again be that letter of encouragement you have written to me on every single birthday I can remember (I still have them all). You could encourage like no other and you knew I needed it. I’ll never get one of those letters again. But, actually, I won’t need one now. You gave me all I needed. You never left anything you did for anyone undone and you haven’t for me either.

And so it will be with all you did and built. Right now it’s hard to come to terms with the fact you have gone. The timing seems strange – but I won’t question it. In this moment as beautiful tributes flow in, the family you have built around the world and it’s united witness to all you stood for feels a mighty, powerful force for good. While, when many outstanding leaders go, they cannot be replaced and their work often goes with them, yours will only shine more brightly.

I guess tears will come again when I open that letter on my birthday and I’ll probably think back on your humour, your vitality, your faith – the mother, the teacher, the warrior, the friend – so many things – but I’ll also know the way ahead hasn’t changed – it is just that you will be urging me onward from up there now, just as you will be for so many of us.

Goodnight for now mother and thank you.

PS. A tribute to you would not be complete without a PS and I’ve just remembered I never said thank you for my birthday present because I hadn’t opened it before you left…but I’m sure you’ll understand. Afraid I couldn’t match your immaculate timing…although I reckon you’ll probably understand that too.