Shirley Boarer

I didn’t know what to say on receiving the unexpected and devastating news about the passing away of Marina Smith who had been such an important part of my life and that of my family. How can I sum up in a few lines what she meant to us and to so many others? For many years, she was a Mother to me, to us, and it is impossible to imagine life without her because she was always there.

We first met ‘Mother’ in 1984 when our older son was only 4 months old. (Our second son was born the following year.) She counselled my husband and me through our early years of marriage and parenthood. She was never afraid to tell us the truth about our lives even when it was something we, and especially I, didn’t want to hear! Fortunately, we chose to listen and were blessed with her help and friendship for 38 years. My own natural mother, although several years older than her, also looked upon her as a Mother and was always expressing gratitude and giving support because she very much valued the love she received from her which had started at the time of her bereavement when my father died in 1985 and continued until the day she herself died three years ago. There are so many fond memories we have of Mother, far too many to recount here. I remember how she and her husband, Eddie, visited our current home not long after our first grandchild came over from Rwanda with his dad to live with us. It was 2009 and our grandson was only two-and-a-half. She played with some of his toys with him, making him feel at home in our ‘strange’ land. Over the years since, he was often invited to visit her at her home and he truly valued and appreciated the time spent with her.

Whatever one’s race or religion, whatever one’s age or circumstances, Mother could relate to each and every individual who came to her and reach out to them with compassion and understanding. She would share in their joys as well as their sorrows. Many people will know how Mother’s sacrificial love extended to people, not just in the UK but throughout the world and especially to Survivors of the Holocaust and other Genocides who felt able to open up their hearts to her. Many shared with her their stories which they had previously felt unable to tell anyone and so brought release to their long-tormented souls. How full of gratitude I am that she was part of my life and allowed me in small way to be part of hers!

Mother gave me direction and a sense of purpose for my life, always setting an example of how to live. My hope is to continue in the way she set before me. According to the dictionary, the word ‘unique’ means ‘the only one of its kind; unlike anything else’. Mother was indeed the only one of her kind and there is truly no one who can compare with her.