for Alice Reynolds' Book of
path that edges Ealing's finest park
nine-tenths of a mile in length,
walk a teenage girl with friends
amble round in twenty minutes.
an Oxbridge graduate,
with a sharp, forensic mind,
to be the person in control—
stride it briskly, hardly noticing
older lady, slow, clearly disabled,
her sticks with fierce determination
after shaking step, cheered on by friends
circumnavigate this little patch of green
an act of will that's quite exceptional.
cells and a random accident
this about. Stuff happens.
did the physio. After a while she spoke
again, walked to the front at church
read the lesson. Consider it pure joy
you face trials of many kinds,
you know the testing of your
saw the potholes in the pavement, saw
long a damaged body takes to get
one room to the next; understood now
everyone is strong, nor meant to be,
fools not suffered gladly are still God's fools.
was struggle, inside she was the same:
but never self-pitying,
change only brought on by answered prayer:
give me patience, and give it
to me now!
was no miracle, except, as promised, that
three survived: her faith, her hope, her love.
week at the Monday group, when it was time
pray, her prayers were always for her daughter:
is no mystery
when those you love depend upon the outcome.
without trying, somehow she became
quiet advocate for the not-noticed,
a mirror up to our assumptions:
judge a person by appearances.
you knew her from before, or took your time,
wouldn't guess who you were speaking to.
a year, till it got too difficult, she talked
trainee physios and therapists,
them how the person in the body
about it all. They gave her rave reviews.
must have been hard, I imagine, to give up
treasures of control and competence
which she'd built her management career.
is growth, then learning to let go,
that she could say "I appreciate
of the basic things we take for
every step, each day with Alan,
the most of their last summer,
the Maze on the Isle of Wight.
even at the end, ever pragmatic,
kept a measure of control and care,
sure her healthy organs would give hope
others when she'd no more use for them.
was not defined by disability
undiminished spirit and concern.
you achieve in life now, Alice,
we hope it will be long and filled with love,
in it will certainly reflect
distant summer day when your mum walked
sticks, faith and sheer bloody-mindedness
three times around the edge of Walpole Park.
Liz Reynolds died in October 2014, aged 55, survived by her husband Alan and daughter Alice, having been disabled as a result of an operation to remove a benign tumour from her brain some years earlier. This poem was read at the Thanksgiving Service for her life at St Johns', West Ealing on November 7, 2014.
© Godfrey Rust 2014, email@example.com. See here for permissions.