“Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: “Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.””
Proverbs 31:25-29 NKJV
It has been great reading all the tributes on Social Media to mothers near and far. Those that are good, and those that maybe could be better but are still loved and appreciated.
In all my writings, my mum does not feature that much, but she is present in every post. It is hard almost years since she passed away to think of fitting tributes to her tenacity, her love and her stubborn refusal to let me slide into hell, even though many around her would have pushed me just so she could rest.
My mum has hunted the streets for me, dragged me out of gang fights, put up with the worst of my addiction and resulting horrific behavior. She even had to talk me down one night in the midst of a very bad episode of Amphetamine Psychosis, when I was convinced some guy (actually a friend lol) was trying to kick my door in. There actually was no one there, but she got how real it seemed to me and talked me down as I prepared to run out the door with a knife chasing shadows and phantoms.
Nearly every Christmas my mum would take on several jobs at the same time to guarantee we would all wake up to a mountain of presents and a gaze of love.
She has fought dentists (another story) and schools for me. She has went without so we all could have.
She put up with so much, but at no time was there EVER any doubt that her love was unconditional.
When my addiction had led to guns and overdoses and needles and craziness, she was always there, calm, rational loving and kind, despite the horrendous pain I put her through.
When it was time to go to rehab, it was my mum that knocked the doors and made the calls.
The visits to Wales, despite not much cash, again mum (always accompanied by my big sis Yvonne).
My baptism – mum.
My graduation – mum and Yvonne on a 12 hour coach journey, arriving just before the start, to head back to Glasgow the next morning.
Upon giving my life to Jesus, the calm excitement from my mum, “That’s great, but you still need to sort yourself out”.
My days in the boy band that was “The Evidence” my mum got all the CD”s and was always encouraging, despite never being able to see us sing and minister.
My first visit back to Scotland at the Teen Challenge Praise Night at Auchenfoyle, as I shared of God’s faithfulness in Christ and how He had began to reshape and restructure my life – my mum and Yvonne right and the front, proud and weeping and acknowledging the truth of my story, even of Ken and the prayer call.
The first time Tracy came to Scotland to visit, and we had our first argument (first not last) it was my mum that talked to Tracy on my behalf. Doing what only mum’s can.
Our wedding in Dublin, my mum organizing another 34 of the family to travel over and celebrate with us.
Her many visits to Dublin and never interfering on how we raised our kids, BUT always being supportive and massive assistance to Tracy and I.
Ballymena, through it all mum was there.
As we moved back to Glasgow, excited about the plans God had for us and the time to spend with my mum….
When Ciaran and I brought the first van of our stuff over, mum was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
She faced her own battles with the same strength and courage that she had faced down mine when I could not.
Christmas 2009 altogether in Darrins. Loud and much fun. Kids and grandkids running riot, mum loving it.
My surprise 40th in February, mum there it was a great night and a fantastic family gathering.
The times Tracy and I would contrive for me to stay over in mum’s house when I had to go to Stirling for ministerial probationary training days just so I could spend time there. Not that we actually needed an excuse, it was always an open door.
Only a few short weeks later, as Tracy and I visited mum in her house with Ciaran and Tracy (over spending time with us on our anniversary) mum was ill in bed. She did not like a fuss (over her) and refused to even countenance a doctors visit. At this time she was on trial medication to assist in the battle with what was now cancer raging within her.
She went into the hospital the next day. On the Friday afternoon, I will never forget reading through Psalm 23 with my mum on a rare few minutes when it was only Tracy and I in the room with her. As I got to “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…” my mum gripped my hand in that special mum way – firm but just firm enough to say “its ok”.
By the Saturday mum was unconscious and we all knew she was going. I had told her that I would bring Naomi up that evening. Naomi was only due to turn 4 the following month. Our girls would always sing to mum, their super gran song, and as Naomi sat on the edge of her bed that night and sung it, it was as if mum stirred. Seconds later, peacefully she passed into the arms of Jesus.
I know many children say it, but the whole of our part of Easterhouse can testify to how totally unjudgemental Heather Anne Kiernan Patterson was. Her kids’ friends were always allowed in their house because that way she could keep an eye open.
She taught us all manners and respect (My early adult life may not have reflected much of that, but it was there).
Mum was fiercely defensive of her family. She had to put up with so much in her life. Married to a typical Glasgow East Ender. Mother to 5 kids by the age of 25 (Neil was a few years later). Her friends loved her. Friday nights with them all in our house were legendary. She worked hard. She was a great daughter, mother, aunt, friend, wife and neighbour. No one could or would say a bad word about Heather. They had nothing on her.
The phone calls:
I remember Jay Fallon challenging me to make sure I told my mum that I loved her. This was whilst I was still part of the Teen Challenge programme. It wasn’t our way at that time. The fear the first time (I know, right) but I will never forget standing in that phone booth in Challenge House in Gorslas on a midweek evening and for the first time saying “Mum, I love you”
After that I never tired of letting mum know how much she meant and that she was loved. I phoned her about everything. Good news – could not wait to call; bad news the same. If I missed a few days, there would be the call “Is everything ok?”
Mum also excelled as a granny. She was perfect. Kids came first in everything. She adored all her grandkids. And I will share more on that another time.
Today was a good day in church. A small gathering but reliable. An those local teenagers that have been coming around, never staying long but always coming back – how I would have loved to have called Heather tonight and told her about them staying all night and having to be “persuaded” to leave at home time.
Happy Mothers’ Day mum, we love and miss you terribly. As kids go, yours are all doing pretty well.
This blog is part of a wider collection to show the journey that would eventually lead me to the cross of Jesus Christ, my personal redemption, and my journey of faith afterwards. If you would like to know more of my story, please click on my “About” page and take it from there.
Alternatively, you can visit the Media Links page and see a short visit done by BBC Radio Scotland for an interview I did there.
If you or someone you love, needs help with the Christian response to addiction, or if you would just like to know more or need hope, please click on one of the following:
Teen Challenge Strathclyde
Teen Challenge UK
Teen Challenge Global
Bethany Christian Trust
Cornerstone Assemblies of God, Maryland
Broken Chains Ayr
Easterhouse Community Church