Sylvia Kathleen Cunningham, nee Trollip, was a different and unique lady. How unique, you may ask… anyone that can make up a foreign language with her sister, then at every opportunity, just for a laugh speak to total strangers in town and see how they reacted was certainly not normal. I make this statement having walked a journey of 55 years with her during this mortal probation.
As a young mother she was filled with humour, passion and compassion. She had an energy, and enthusiasm that was contagious to all that met her. Raising four children was not easy, but never a complaint was uttered. She became our best friend. One who was prepared to listen and seek understanding, one who would speak with us, not at us. She taught us how to pray and rely on the Lord.
My father was a God-fearing man, but was not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when we were born. He joined the Church when I was 29 years old. He was a wonderful man and dedicated father, but one who would not support my mother in her faith.
Sylvia, however, was totally committed as is illustrated in the following story.
When we were toddlers, my mother did not have a car. In fact not only could we not afford one, but she could not drive, nor did she have a license. My father refused to drive us to Church on Sundays. My mother would put my older brother and I into a pram and would walk 3 kilometers to the train station in Uitenhage. We would then take a train to Port Elizabeth, a journey of approximately an hour. A bus from the train station in Port Elizabeth in Walmer would take about 15 to 20 minutes, followed by a short walk of between 5 to 10 minutes to the chapel. Church was from 09h00 until 12h00 and then we would make the long journey home. Travel time and church on a Sunday was approximately 7 hours. On occasion my father was there to pick us up, but I think that this was more to ensure that he did not have a late lunch, as opposed to any other reason. With time his heart was softened and as mentioned, not only did he join the Church, but was sealed to my Mom in the temple two months before he passed away.
She sacrificed with love. Her dedication and commitment to the gospel was taught to us through her example and evident in the lifestyle that she led. She baked and sold cakes to support me on my mission. On a weekly basis she would visit the sick and elderly, often singing songs and reciting poetry to them. She was sure to bear her testimony each fast Sunday. Her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren were her pride and joy. On this Mother’s Day we rejoice in the mother and woman that she was and is. Her legacy lives on through her family.
Although we miss her, we have a sure testimony that we will spend the eternities with her.
To all mothers out there, have a wonderful Mother’s Day. May your children bring you flowers and express their love for you often.