It's Mother's Day on Sunday (I'm never sure if it should be Mother's Day or Mothers' Day?). Don't panic if you're reading this in the US (forever hopeful that my blog is being read across the Atlantic!)... you guys don't celebrate your mothers until May. So you still have plenty of time to leave present-buying to the last minute. Here in the UK, this time is already upon us.
The question is what to buy? A card from the petrol station round the corner doesn't really seem to do the job. I'm not sure it really says "Happy Mother's Day... thanks for all you have done for me, for giving me life, caring for me, loving me, and for still doing my washing for me even when I left home". Perhaps a box of chocolates would say that?
I don't know about you (how could I?), but I do often find buying presents quite a hard thing to do. Maybe it's because I'm a man, but buying presents can be quite stressful at times! Especially if you're buying for a woman, whether it's your mum or the other special lady in your life (no, I'm not talking about that woman who works behind the bar at the White Horse). Because women like different things to men, don't they? Things like creams, lotions, smelly candles, that kind of stuff (I can sense now that the men reading this are already beginning to drift off...). And how much do you spend? They'll tell you that it's the thought that counts, but I get the feeling that, by and large, more expensive thoughts count for more!
As Mother's Day approaches, not only do I think of my own mum (of course), but I also find myself thinking of another mum. A woman I've not met personlly, but who I find enormously inspiring. Her name is Gee Verona Walker. Many of you will not have heard of her, or will at least not know her name. However, some of you will have seen her in television news reports following the murder of her 18 year 0ld son, Anthony, in July 2005.
Late on 29 July 2005, Anthony Walker was waiting with his girlfriend and his cousin at a bus stop near his home in a suburb of Liverpool. While they were waiting, another teenager started shouting abuse at them, and so they decided to walk to the next bus stop, taking a short cut through a park. They were then ambushed by two youths, one of whom was now carrying an ice axe. Anthony was killed by a single blow to the head with the axe.
The judge at the murder trial, which found two men guilty of the killing, concluded that it had been racially motivated. Anthony was black, his attackers were white, and it had been racist abuse that had been shouted by one of his attackers earlier at the bus stop.
Why am I telling you this, I hear you ask. I started off with what seemed to be a light-hearted look at Mother's Day, and now I'm talking about a horrific murder that took place almost 2 years ago. And what has any of this got to do with being 'spiritual'??
Well, following Anthony Walker's murder, there was a huge amount of media coverage, first about the murder itself and then about the police investigation and the subsequent trial. During this time, it was the behaviour of Anthony's mother, Gee, that stuck in my memory. Gee Walker held a very strong Christian faith, and because of this she found it in her heart to forgive the men who had killed her son. She was truly able to forgive them for what they had done.
Following the conviction of her son's killers she said, "Unforgiveness makes you a victim and why should I be a victim? Anthony spent his life forgiving. His life stood for peace, love and forgiveness and I brought them up that way" she said following the conviction of her son's killers. "I have to practice what I preach. I don't feel any bitterness towards them really, truly, all I feel is... I feel sad for the family."
I don't know how many of us would be able to do the same thing. To forgive someone for deliberately and so violently taking the life of our child. and the 'reason' being because of the colour of his skin.
Since Anthony's murder, Gee Walker has continued to work tirelessly to ensure that her son's death was not in vain. She and her family have set up the Anthony Walker Foundation dedicated to educate children about racism. All in all, a truly inspirational woman with an inspirational family.
So maybe I'm thinking too much about what I buy my mum for Mother's Day. Maybe it doesn't really matter, as long as I tell her and show her that I love her. Perhaps more importantly, I need to learn to tell her this more often, as one day one of us won't be there to say it or hear it.