Whispering for Mother

I don’t have a God, but I like people who do (sometimes). Last week my best friend Ben, a cradle Catholic, organised a 10.00am Mass at the Roman Catholic cathedral to be dedicated to my mother. Intention: Carole Foster is how they put it. The cathedral is a cavernous, austere and cold building; the daily ritual of mass takes place in a side chapel where thirty or so of the hard core faithful turn up. It lasted about half an hour. There was a reading from the bible which was like an incantation of a family tree: Ezikiel was the father of Jeremiah was the father of Lucas was the father of Simeon whose father was the father of…

I have just been looking at a family tree which my notoriously tight-fisted deceased uncle had draw up in Biro on the back of a Guinness wall calendar using the August 1982 page. The picture is of a gamekeeper, his mate and a Labrador. The keeper shoots one a flock of early computer game Toucans which blows up like a detonated space invader. I would have been twenty then, my mother nearly forty. The chart goes back to 1791 where it is peopled by Josephs and Jobs and one Jeremiah, father of John, Joyce and Dinah.

The couple directly behind Ben and I at the Mass were the most devout of the devout slightly pre-empting everyone else’s responses, she, most especially, getting them in a nano-second earlier than him and loud too in an accent I found hard to locate. The ritual at the end is to shake hands with everyone within touching distance of you. When I looked at the girl I decided she was Chilean. She was wearing the accessory de jour, the item that Ben and I both lacked: a crocheted bonnet. I liked being there, and I would go back.

I have been speaking to mum this afternoon, she has not had a good week, feeling sick from the chemo and also with pain in her stomach. I never prayed in church, it would seem like asking a huge favour from a total stranger. On the way in we lit candles, I preferred the silence of that. But I have been talking to myself a lot this week and once I caught myself whispering in the woods with Dylan.

The Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Norwich

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12 Responses to Whispering for Mother

  1. makemeadiva says:

    As a cradle catholic myself, I can say with certainty that the handshaking ritual is the Sign of Peace.

    So, it would be apt for me to say, as Catholics do, to you, your mum and your readers:

    Peace be with you.

  2. I'llmarmaliseyah. says:

    I was raised a Catholic by parents of blind faith, it has affected my whole life and made me bitterly anti religion. Having said that I have seen and can appreciate the crutch a person’s religion can be.
    I hope Mother Winger has a pain free peaceful christmas and New Year leading to a full recovery.
    My sincerest seasonal wishes to Mother Winger, Winger, Mrs Winger and Winger Mogul.

  3. Lynn Powley says:

    No wonder your hair’s gone grey. I actually thought it looked rather nice but didn’t want to let on in front of Andy.
    I will pursue you for the rowing, my/our club is struggling to survive and as membership secretary it’s a moral obligation to do everything I can to keep it alive.
    07780 331875 for further details. Please don’t look at our website , it’s crap.
    You could be sculling in a double on Xmas morning, I will be, what bliss!
    P.s . Like the blog a lot [‘to blogalot’ – to spend alot of time blogging], where can I get one?!

  4. Stephen Foster says:

    Hi Lynn, & welcome; there’s less chance of seeing flying Dalmatians than of me showing up tomorrow, lovely idea though that is. But the future is different. Your grey top compliment certainly won’t do any harm. : )

    Happy Christmas to you both xxS

    ps You just go to wordpress.com to make one of these, it’s exceptionally easy & if I can do it anyone can.

  5. OS says:

    Agnostics: yes. Athiests: no. I’ve seen too many inexplicable things in my short life to think that we mere mortals know it all. So, say a proper bloody prayer, winger. It dunner cost you owt, and if you do it when you’re walking Dills, nobody will know. Or maybe you have. 😉

    Whatever, love to Mum, and I wish her a very happy Xmas and a great new-year, and I dunner give a toss if anybody thinks it’s inappropriate cus she’s really poorly. And I’ve said a prayer for her, and for all her loved ones. An arve bought her a; its-the-thought-that-counts little pressy, which I’ll give to you after the Fulham game.

    Merry Xmas everyone.

    OSx. (ng)

  6. Stephen Foster says:

    ‘Say a Proper Bloody Prayer Winger.’ 🙂

    You have put me straight there alright; I’ll have to get the Pulis Prayer Mat out now then.

    Happy Christmas you Old Scrote & thanks to all for your messages x

  7. Geraldine says:

    Sorry this is so late in the day but happy Christmas to everyone on this blog!

    I agree with OS’s comments above, and I want to particularly wish your Mum a very happy Christmas. Prayers are prayers Stephen, if they come from the heart then I don’t think it matters a bit where you are when you say them. I find the ones said when I’m on my own somewhere feel more beneficial than the ones said en masse, but that’s just me!

    Beanneachtai an Nollaig libh go leir (The blessings of Christmas to you all)

  8. lynnpowley says:

    Didn’t get out on the river, my partner wimped out.
    Had my fill of Powley ‘all knowing but knowing nothing’ masculinity and Powley female kitchen martyrdom instead. Needless to say ended up with physical and mental indigestion.
    But it’s over , for 364 days I’m free.
    Have signed up for a wordpress blog, going to have a boat club secretary’s blog, it’ll be easier than producing a newletter, a bit more interactive too.
    Rowing club sessions resume on the 9th January. On Sunday’s it’s rowing and Saturday mostly sculling. What happens depends on who turns up. If we’re lucky we’ll have enough on a Sunday to take out the 8 which is always an awesome experience. Last Sunday we took out the restricted four because of the ice. The sound of the bow and blades breaking the ice was incredible. Kept thinking of Shackleton.
    Hope you had a good Xmas day!

  9. Stephen Foster says:

    Better than that, maybe : )

    One tip: When you set your blog up name it in the cleanest way so it will drive the relevant traffic to it:


    or whatever it is.

  10. Pel says:

    And even later! Happy Christmas to everyone, but especially to Stephen and Mum. I know what you’re going through because I’ve been there. I don’t practice a religion but I know a lot of people that do and I respect their beliefs. As Geraldine said, prayers are prayers if they come from heart and it doesn’t matter where you say them, and whisper in the woods to your hearts content, it helps.
    Peace and Love to you all XXXXXX

  11. mum says:

    Thanks to you all xxxxxxx

  12. Rory says:

    As someone born and raised in America’s Bible Belt I have to say it always amazed me growing up to learn that England had such beautiful churches and that were, for the most part, empty. Of course I always prefered going to small churches rather than large impersonal ones myself.
    Anyway, for what it’s worth your mother will be in my family’s prayers tonight.

    Rory from Kentucky

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