Today I had the privilege of baptising 6 children. It was very poignant for me to do this today for several reasons. Firstly, 23 years ago today my youngest daughter was baptised in the same church, secondly she is the Godmother of one of the children, and thirdly, her Godmother, my eldest sister, who was also my Godmother, died just a week ago.
It’s been noted a few times that asking your own Godmother to repeat the job must have been a great endorsement in her competence in the role, and it was. She was 18 when I was born, an age gap where many could find such a young sibling a nuisance, but when it came to being a Godmother, she was there.
I recall her coming straight from work one Friday evening to be at my Confirmation, she looked stunningly stylish in a rich red jump suit and black hat at my wedding (it was the early 80s) and she did the first reading when I was ordained. On that day I was given my dad’s rosary, she gave me a beautiful box to keep it in.
I spent a lot of time with her and her family during school holidays and she was utterly pivotal to me when we lost a teenage brother in 1971. My daughters got similar treatment with cards from her travels to Iona, rosaries bought at Notre Dame Paris, as well as fun days out, the most memorable being the day the three of them spent in the Millennium Dome.
She died at 74 with, in spite of chemotherapy, a full head of naturally dark hair. We will travel north on Thursday to say our goodbyes in the heart of Sherwood Forest, and then raise a small glass in her honour. This is the second time in seven months we will gather as a family to do so, our eldest brother, who was 16 months the younger (and also my Godfather) died last July. She helped pass on a legacy of faith to me, and to my girls, I hope we are able to do a worthy job of carrying on that legacy.