I read the most moving story this week.
Of a solo sailor, now dubbed the Mediterranean Miracle.
When she fell overboard in the middle of a Med while taking a pee, highly experienced French yachtswoman Florence Arthaud thought she was going to die alone in a cold sea.
As the waves swept the 54-year-old away from her boat, she scrabbled for her waterproofed mobile phone and rang her mum, thousands of miles away in Paris.
Her elderly mother sprang into action, moving heaven, earth and a sea rescue team to save her daughter’s life.
Maybe Florence hoped that, of all people, her mother would be able to work the miracle. But certainly, she knew that if her life was about to end, the voice of the woman who brought her into the world would bring her the greatest comfort.
It made me reflect on the mother-child bond and how, when your life is at its worst, or even when life is swiftly ebbing from you, it is she you want more than any other.
The woman who cradled you from the moment you were conceived is still your ultimate comfort, no matter how grown up and tough and independent you think you are.
No matter how far away you have pushed your need for her, when the chips are down, all a soul wants is a mother’s arms.
It had been recorded countless times that, as soldiers and sailors and pilots lay dying, with their last breath they call for their mothers.
On the bloody, stinking, fear-soaked battlefields of World War One and Two, sons fighting for their lives and the freedom of their countries wished they could live to look in their mothers’ eyes again.
Far away, those worry-worn women waited and waited, hoped and hoped.
And then their sons were dying, sighing for her. Did they know, those mothers?
Did those whispered calls stir them in their sleep? It’s what you always hope for. You want to believe that when your children are in peril, you will sense it somehow.
And that, even if you can do nothing to save them, in those last seconds your thoughts and theirs will unite and it will give them comfort.
Right this moment, mothers whose sons are servicemen out in Iraq and Afghanistan are living on a knife’s edge, waiting for phone calls and letters, every one of them hoping that their pride and joy comes home unharmed.
Maybe this moment, one of those mothers is being told her beautiful boy has died, so very far away and she is killing herself inside because she didn’t know; she didn’t feel it. She didn’t hear him calling for her one last time.
On the 11th hour of Remembrance Day, so eerily on 11-11-11 this year, I will be remembering them - the mothers. The women whose little lads, all grown into handsome, tall, strapping men, went off smiling and valiant and never came back. Their loss is immeasurable.