By Rob Furlong
The 24th June 2013 was a day that forever changed the lives of Selina Bello and Peggy Alexander-Kew.
Selina was five months pregnant and working with her Mum, Angela Ferullo at their hair dressing salon in Como, Perth, Western Australia and Peggy had been a loyal customer of theirs for the previous four years.
Suddenly, around 10.30am a man charged into the salon brandishing two hunting knives and demanding to know where Angela was. The man was Angela's ex-husband and also the father of Selina.
In this tragic encounter all three women were stabbed by the man with Peggy bravely staring him down and telling him to leave – she had even managed to hit him over the head with a salon chair!
Although Selina (and her unborn child) survived the encounter her mother tragically did not.
Angela died as a result of the wounds inflicted upon her when she threw herself between the attacker and her pregnant daughter.
Reflecting back on that day and what she witnessed, Peggy has no doubt that Selina would have been killed had her mother not sacrificed her own life to protect her. It is little surprise, given the ordeal that these women endured, that Peggy and Selina today share a special bond.
Angela's sacrifice and bravery – in literally laying down her life for her family – blows me away when I think about it and it poignantly illustrates the depth of the loving bond that a mother has for her children.
Experts tell us that this bond develops between a mother and child while the child is in the womb and I believe that it is an unbreakable bond. I have seen it in the eyes of my own wife Karen for our children and also in the way she has loved, cared and nurtured them over the course of their lives. And it is a love and nurture that continues to this day despite the fact that they are now grown adults, some with children of their own! I truly believe that she would also lay down her life for them.
It is interesting to note that the Bible also acknowledges the intensity of the love that a mother has for her children. Hosea 13:8 uses the imagery of a female bear who has had her cubs stolen from her – such is her love for her lost cubs that she is both fearsome and ferocious in her efforts to retrieve them. It may be going a bit far to suggest that human mothers would go to the same lengths to protect their own children but in the case of Angela Ferullo giving up her life for her daughter and grandchild, is that not a love that is both fearsome and ferocious?
I am deliberately trying to not overstate my case but I also want to point out that the love of a mother for her child is a beautiful gift from God intended to provide children with an environment in which they are raised in safety and security. What a loss it is for the child who does not know the sweetness, tenderness and nurture that a mother's love provides. A mother's love is truly one of God's greatest blessings.
I am also amazed at the bravery of all three of these women – Peggy, Angela and Selina – both during and in the aftermath of this awful tragedy. Bravery that confronted and stared down evil in the face; bravery that produced incalculable sacrifice and bravery that has enabled the two survivors to rebuild their lives. We often speak of the brave exploits of men and rightly so. But there are also thousands upon thousands of women, both past and present, known and unknown, who have shown tremendous bravery in the face of the worst of circumstances. Among them are women I have met in Africa who have witnessed unspeakable atrocities committed against their families and yet somehow they find the courage to serve God, love people and live.
This Mother's Day pause and offer a prayer of thanks to God for the provision of a mother's love and the security that it brings to all human relationships. And thank Him also for the courageous women in our world and in your life – what a wonderful gift they are! •