Have you ever felt that overpowering need to tell a story to a friend? Trafford Publishing author Irene Powell had this feeling, yet she felt everybody needed to hear this story. Certain people lead lives that are filled with trials and tribulations, so much so that their lives needs to be penned and turned into a book. Powell’s friend Johanna was one of these fascinating people and because of Johanna, Laughter and Tears was borne.
I first met Johanna in my local church and learnt that some short time before then her husband had died. Even then, she had mobility problems and was finding it difficult to get around. Her family all lived in Holland and persuaded her she should move back there. On her last Sunday in church she was asking if people would write to her in Holland. I agreed. Soon we were exchanging letters weekly, then more frequently. Letters turned to phone calls and the bills proved how much time we spent chatting across the phone lines!
My husband and I flew to Holland for a long promised visit to their famous bulb fields and saw Johanna whilst we were there. We invited her back to England for a holiday and that was the beginning of a very special friendship.
Despite being born in Holland, Johanna was homesick for England and after several visits to us my husband & I decided to buy a small property nearby and invited Johanna to return to England. She jumped for joy (well, she would have done if her legs worked better!)
Despite a difference of over twenty years in our ages we became inseparable – real soul mates. I expect Johanna became for me a best friend, big sister and mother all rolled into one. My family became Johanna’s family and myself the daughter she never really had.
The years passed – so much laughter and in truth, very few tears.
The more I got to know her and learned of her background – her amazing courage, determination and strength of character; the heartaches and bitter disappointments she had risen above – the more I thought others should know about her life. Many times I said I should write that story but somehow never got around to it. We were too busy enjoying ourselves and our friendship.
Then one year, in church on Remembrance Sunday, (a date in November each year when we in the UK remember all those whose lives have been given or changed during times of war) Johanna was asked to briefly tell of her wartime experiences in Holland under German Occupation and later working in refugee camps. The congregation were stunned. After the service so many people wanted to know more and many said her story should be written.
The rest, as they say, is history!
I bought a computer and set about writing her incredible story of Laughter & Tears. We had the proof copy in time for her 80th birthday.
Sadly, my dearest friend died two years ago. I miss her every single day. She bravely fought crippling pain and total loss of mobility but she still had the most beautiful smile which could light up a room.
Another friend once told her ”your smile and laughter is so infectious it should be bottled!”
So, why did I write her story? Because it’s a story that was worth writing. It’s a story which is worth reading. It’s a story of living life to the full, no matter what it may throw at you and at the end of the day, thanking God that He brought you through it all – yes, the laughter and the tears. Read it and see for yourself.
Irene Powell’s Trafford Publishing bibliography:
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