The bravest thing I’ve ever seen …

We were challenged today to write about the bravest thing we’ve ever witnessed.

Throughout the day I’ve been trying to bring to mind an incident to illustrate the topic. I’ve thought of many things, but not one of them fits the category. And I wondered why …

I’m from New Zealand. New Zealanders are a very self-effacing lot. We don’t sing our own praises and we tend to regard things that others may consider brave as ‘just what you do’, ‘just what anyone would do’. Our newspapers are full of examples of amazing bravery … the one that springs to mind is one many years ago where a fireman rescued who risked his own life when rescued a little girl who was pinned underneath a burning truck. Her injuries were severe. That one act of incredible bravery touched the hearts of all New Zealanders – and still does.

But closer to home, close to my heart there is one act of bravery that inspires me. A very personal act of bravery, not one that would rate a column in a newspaper.

Back in 1984 my mother found that she had an inoperable brain tumour. Over the previous few years she had had several episodes of bowel cancer which had been successful removed. The diagnosis of a brain tumour was devastating! She had suffered the deaths of my brother in a hang-gliding accident in 1976, and my father  from a heart attack in 1980. She had two young grandchildren who had brought much-needed sunshine back into her life. She couldn’t get enough of them and would spend hours crawling around on the floor with them, playing with them, cuddling them and loving them.

Life can be so cruel.

At the time she had been accepted on a course at the Royal School of Needlework in London. It is very difficult to get on such a course – you need to have exceptional skills. She did. Even though she was suffering from debilitating headaches, extreme tiredness and knowing that her condition was only going to get worse – she went and she went on her own. It was a no frills trip staying in spartan student accommodation.

She fulfilled her lifelong dream and completed the course.

Her condition deteriorated not long after her return and she died in 1985. The projects she started on while in London remain incomplete; they are a testament to her amazing bravery.


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