"Yesterday, the Labour MP for Batley and Spen, Jo Cox was murdered in the streets of Birstall, leaving behind a husband, children and country to mourn her passing. Only elected to Parliament one year ago, her compassion and genuine goodness crossed all political parties to mark her out as a 'family member' whom all the House along with her constituents greatly respected and admired. God rest her soul and bless her family in the time ahead.
Speaking of family, today is my sister Mary's birthday. Mary is 18 months younger than me and is far bossier in personality. Since our mother died thirty years ago, she has adopted the matriarchal family role. She plays the role of 'Gate keeper' in the Forde Family. Nothing ever escapes her attention or gets passed her without her approval.
Every partner, fiancee or spouse that one of her brothers or sisters has ever had cannot be fully accepted into the Forde Family without Mary's approval. If she says that they are okay, then they're in, but if she gives them the 'thumbs down' sign, it is far better to get rid sooner rather than later.
Throughout our development, me and my next two sisters in line, Mary and Eileen have always been the closest in shared experiences and sibling affection. I am the eldest in a family of seven children and an 18 month gap separates me and Mary, and a one year gap, Mary from Eileen. Until my ninth year of age, the three of us even shared the same bed; a situation that the Social Services would prosecute parents for today and throw away the key.
Most of my adult life, myself and Eileen have always referred to Mary as 'Blessed Mary.' This is because she has never driven a car at 31 mph in a 30 mph area or has ever dared to park on double yellow lines. Both me and Eileen are convinced that she has never looked twice at another man outside her husband, has never committed a mortal sin or ever collected a parking ticket or picked her nose!
I have always grown older believing Mary not to possess one ounce of badness in her bones, but have in more recent years noticed how her poor bones have deteriorated. During the past few years she has had a knee and hip replacement and has been plagued with rheumatism in her hands, a condition I might add which has corresponded with the outbreak of a few character flaws I've also noticed during her weaker moments.
Our Mary has this annoying habit of asking you a question and before she has given you an opportunity to answer it, she has asked you another question or has started a conversation with another person in the room. In fact, I doubt she has ever started a conversation and ended it before starting another with someone else, or listened to the conversation of two other people for longer than one minute without feeling the need to butt in and interrupt their flow.
All in all though, given that we've known each other over seventy years now, I feel sure that we'll be able to rub along okay, so long as she learns to pause for breath between one sentence and the next. In this world of uncertainty, it is refreshing to have some things close to you that remain forever constant and which you can remain certain of.
I know that if I go to the other side of the green sod before Mary, she will still talk to me even though I've already left the room, and if she passes over first, she will still butt into my conversation from the other side of life to ask a question, the answer to which she will not wait for before continuing with her next train of haunting thought.
My final certainty about Mary is that I love her dearly as I know she does me. We are family through and through. Happy birthday sister. Your big brother Billy x" William Forde: June 17th, 2016.