This book is a delightful and intimate look at a very special young woman named Bernice Boyes. I had never heard of her before, but she had worked at Western Tract Mission, where I am also heavily involved, and her mother, the author of this dear book, had dropped off a copy on the director's desk.
When she was a very young girl it was discovered that Bernice had a bizarre disorder known as Fibrodyspasia ossificans progressiva (FOP). It gradually immobilizes people by turning soft tissue into bone by heavy calcium deposits, particularly in the aponeuroses, fascia, and tendons, and secondarily the muscles.
This made it important that Bernice not fall or injure herself, for each bruise seemed to draw this problem to that spot. However, she did her best to live a normal life, and was a sensitive and spiritual girl who sought always to please her Saviour.
After she finished high school and began life as an adult, Bernice began to discover more limitations. Still, she insisted on taking correspondence courses to help her become a freelance writer, going out to singing engagements with her neighbourhood Bible study group, The Seekers, and taking part in life with an eagerness to serve the Lord.
Her mother, Magna Boyes, takes us gently through the various stages of Bernice's life, and shows us the view from Bernice's mind and caring heart. She does this with frequent quotes from Bernice's letters and diaries.
There are the short spells when she lived and worked in Saskatoon, the big city for many of small town folk around here. She made some life-long friends, attended a church, and became a Western Tract Mission corrector and correspondent for the Bible lessons by mail. She enjoyed all this heartily, and delighted in trying new and more things. Bernice always wanted to shop and go places just like anyone else.
When the home where she lived had a change of circumstances, she moved back to Birch Hills to live with her widowed mother for a while, and they drew closer than ever. But Bernice was not resigned to being a helpless invalid. So when she heard of the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre in Regina, she applied to move there.
Here she reveled in her independence within a care-giving facility. Bernice could go shopping, decorate her room, use her computer to journal and write, and do up newsletters for others. She also surprised her mother by insisting she was going on a missions trip to a YWAM training center.
The more I read, the more I loved and identified with this young woman. She had a heart after God, and knew how to take her handicap in account, without letting it limit her any more than it had to. I felt strengthened in my own faith and resolves, just getting to know Bernice!
In fact, I mourned her passing along with Magna, and I'm so very glad that she took up the challenge of recording her daughter's life like this. The New Testament says of some of the Old Testament heroes, "they being dead, yet speak." But sharing Bernice's story with us in this book, her life still speaks and ministers grace to those who want to hear her message.