Ingrid Hammond was born and brought up in Berlin. She survived the mass bombing raids of the Second World War. She was at the Berlin circus on the night of the first bombing raid, and was knocked to the ground and almost trampled by the stampede of people and animals seeking to escape the explosions. My mother told me of how she would sometimes go out after bombing raids and collect pieces of shrapnel. Sometimes she saw the flares coming down, what she called "Christmas Trees", signals dropped by the lead bomber to guide the aircraft as to where to unload their cargo of death and destruction. Because of the bombings, the family moved to Minden, where they endured further bombings. Finally when their town was overrun by allied forces, my mother was attacked and threatened by one of the looters, a Canadian soldier, demanding to know where the family jewels were. She then witnessed the Canadians carrying all their family crockery and breakable possessions up to the top floor, just to be thrown down and smashed. Their home was expropriated as a military command post by the occupying forces. Along with her mother, aunt and brother, Mum was forced to trudge out into the snow, with only with what they could transport on a sled. For a time they had to scrounge for scraps of food to survive, and without a home in winter.
Later, my mother travelled to England to train as a nurse. Two stories epitomised for me the fiery spirit of my mother. At customs in Dover, the officials demanded exorbitant customs duties on two wine bottles she had in her possession.
As my mother couldn’t afford to pay, and as they wanted to confiscate them, she smashed the bottles on the floor in front of them and said: "If I can’t have them, neither can you!"
On another occasion, an extremely irate nurse attacked my mother, hitting her in the face and cursing her because she was German. My mother reached over and pulled a bone out of one of the skeletons used in nursing training, and knocked her assailant over the head!
During her nursing training, my mother won a National Award and we have the photograph of her being presented with this award by the then Prime Minister of Great Britain, Harold Macmillan. (This is the Prime Minister Macmillan famous for his "winds of change" speech).
My mother met my father through her nursing. As my Dad’s father was dying, my Father travelled up from Rhodesia for a last visit. It was after the death of his father, that my Dad met Mum.
My brother, Derek, was born in England, and I was born in South Africa. Dad was a Hotel Manager and Catering Manager. At one time he catered for the King of England and the Royal family at the Victoria Falls Hotel. In London, he was the Catering Manager at the American Embassy. He also catered for the Rhodesian Prime Minister and President at the Bulawayo Club.
I particularly remember my Grandfather’s visit. My mother’s father had served in the Africa Corp under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.
When my Dad and Grandfather met, they reminisced about World War II and the North African desert war – where they had fought one another on opposite sides! One particularly memorable incident which impressed me, was that on Christmas Eve they observed a spontaneous cease-fire, with the German and British forces singing Christmas carols to one another. On Christmas Day they walked across the no-man’s land and exchanged ration packs and showed one another photos of their families! My father had an extremely high respect for Rommel and the Africa Corp, and called them "an honourable enemy", and the North African campaign as "the last gentleman’s war."
I remember my mother as the life and soul of the party, when my parents went to dances, fancy dress parties or had friends around to play monopoly, bridge and chess.
One funny incident, which shows how times change: When my Mother and Father (who was quite a lot older than Mum) arrived at a hotel in Laingsburg in the Karoo, the Hotel Manager insisted on seeing their marriage certificate before giving them a room!
My Mother taught me an early love for reading and for animals, particularly cats. I remember been taken to see the premier screening of "Born Free" and meeting Joy Adamson, who signed a copy of her book for us. Another major highlight was going to the Kruger National Park with my Mother and Grandmother.
When my cat, Tiger, was dying of cat flu, Mum and I stayed up and nursed him through the night for several days, giving him injections every hour. Tiger survived to live a long life!
My Mother was converted to Christ in 1978, about a year after myself. She attended regular worship services at St. Stephens. In 1984, my Dad was converted to Christ after suffering a heart attack and stroke. For the next 2½ years, my Dad and Mom regularly attended St. James Church of England in Kenilworth.
When Dad died on Christmas Eve in 1986, Mum became something of a recluse. It was very hard to get her out anywhere, but I managed to visit her at least once a week, whenever I was in Cape Town.
In the 90’s, Mum went through several medical emergencies, needing a hip replacement, some of her stomach was removed, tubes were fitted into her leg to counter circulation problems, and finally her leg needed to be amputated in February 1998.
It was over 3½ years ago, that I stood at Mum’s bedside in Claremont Hospital. She was on a lung machine, unconscious, dying from the poison from her gangrene infected leg. It fell upon me to sign the permission for the surgeon to amputate her leg. This was a very hard decision to make, because my Mother had expressly forbidden me to authorise any amputation. Like many medical people, my Mum was a difficult patient. Yet, in hindsight, I can praise God for that amputation, hard as it was at the time.
It was especially hard for Mum, she lost her leg, her car, her job at the surgery and her flat (which was on the 1st floor and there was no lift, she would have to use the stairs), all in one go. But so many good things, spiritually, came out of it. Mum moved into our home, and Lenora and I began looking after her on a daily basis. She became part of our daily devotions and meals, and joined us at Church each Sunday, and began working regularly at the Frontline Fellowship office. Mum grew so much spiritually over the last 3½ years. She enjoyed being with her grandchildren on a daily basis.
This especially included Christopher, as Mum always rose to a medical emergency. With Christopher’s chronic kidney failure, he needed much care, and Mum spent many nights both at the hospital and at home, sitting up and caring for him through the night. Mum also seemed to really enjoy the work and the fellowship at the mission, and the worship and sermons at Church, where she made some precious friends. Mum would often enjoy discussing the sermons and their implications. Mum had a keen mind, and would generally enjoy a good argument or discussion.
In July, Mum suffered her first heart attack and stroke, and was rushed to Vincent Pallotti Hospital. Within three weeks, she had recovered remarkably, and was back at home, in good enough time to celebrate Christopher’s 6th birthday. Mum was particularly praising God for how He has given such grace and strength to Christopher, to beat all the medical predictions. Christopher was given no chance of survival at birth, and then surprised all the doctors by making a most remarkable recovery. They then said that he would definitely need a kidney transplant by age 1 or 2. But now, to see Christopher running around so full of energy and vitality, gave Mum immense joy. As Mum said, Christopher was our "miracle boy", a real answer to prayer.
Over the years, Mum handled scores of mailings from the Frontline Fellowship office. In fact, she was in the office doing a mailing just the Friday before we had to rush her to the hospital.
My Mother died on 28 September, in the same hospital that I was born in.
We can only praise God, that God preserved my mother through many years of bombings in World War II, and through the political upheavals and terrorist wars against Rhodesia and South Africa. If God had not spared Mum through the aerial bombings in Europe, then neither Derek, nor I would have been born, nor Timothy, Lauren, Andrea, Daniela, Christopher and Calvin. I don’t know if any of Mum’s 6 grandchildren are going to inherit her love for nursing or medicine, but I do trust that we will all maintain the love for reading, which she taught me so early on. Most importantly, it is my prayer that each of us, will learn to love the Lord Jesus Christ more each day, and that we would grow to serve Him more effectively.
We are all going to miss Mum very much. But I thank and praise God that He gave us these last 3½ years. Because Mum could so easily have died back early in 1998.
These extra years of grace, have been such wonderful times of spiritual growth, and we will all cherish many precious memories of Mum.
Mum survived the Second World War, rose above adversity and overcame prejudice and hostility in a foreign land where she was treated as an enemy. She lived through tumultuous world events and turbulent times in Southern Africa, suffered the loss of her husband of 31 years, endured much pain and overcame the physical disability of losing a leg, to continue to give herself in service to others as she had so long ago committed to do through the pledge of Florence Nightingale.
I am very grateful for all at Frontline Fellowship and at Church, who were good friends to my Mother, and who went the extra mile to help her and to make these last years of hers so enjoyable.
I am particularly grateful to my precious wife, Lenora, who first suggested building a cottage for Mum in our garden. It couldn’t have been easy caring for a mother-in-law with a disability, but Lenora gave herself wholeheartedly to caring for Mum without complaining, and joyfully.
We are all the better, and stronger, for having known Mum, and for her love and example and inquiring mind. I know that what Mum would most want, is that her children and grandchildren be faithful in following, worshipping and serving our Lord Jesus Christ. May we be faithful to God’s Word and to God’s work.
We grieve, because we have lost a mother and a grandmother, and because it will be a long time until we see her again. But we also rejoice in the blessed hope of the resurrection of the body at the day of Christ Jesus. Death for the Christian is not fatal, nor is it final. Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life. Mum is now free of pain, and when God raises her body, it will be whole and complete, she will have both her legs, she will be free of every physical affliction which she has had to endure for so many years here on earth.
Many religions believe in an after-life. But what is unique to Christianity is the distinctive belief in the resurrection of the body. Christ’s resurrection guarantees that those who die believing in Him, shall one day be raised in His likeness to be with Him forever. Through Christ, death has lost its sting. We can face death in the sure knowledge that Christ has delivered us from the coming wrath and from eternal judgement. I praise God, that my Mother knew the love and salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We grieve, but we do not grieve as those who have no hope.
"Jesus said: ‘Whoever hears My Word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life and will not be condemned. He has crossed over from death to life.’" John 5:24