Warm-Hearted, Generous and Unforgettable

Dear Readers,

This is just a small tribute to an extremely kind lady who was my boss for nine years, and is being shared with her family’s approval. Just four days ago, I learned that Johanna Bambridge, my wonderful former Elementary School Principal (from 2005-2014) at St. John’s International School, Waterloo, had died on the previous day, 6 July 2017, at the age of 65. Johanna’s family have been very moved by tributes from hundreds of caring friends, showing how greatly Johanna is loved.

Marcia, another very good lady at St. John’s, set up on Facebook a beautiful tribute page so that Johanna’s husband and daughter and son, together with other family members and close friends, can receive a little comfort from seeing literally hundreds of kind, loving messages pouring in from people who knew Johanna well, all expressing their feelings for her. I would like to share with you here just a verse from my message, because it also helped to give my family a little comfort when my mum passed away last year. Though it is not my poem, I hope that it may help you in some way, too, at some point in your own life. It is called “Memories In The Heart”. 

Feel no guilt in laughter, she knows how much you care

Feel no sorrow in a smile that she’s not here to share

You cannot grieve forever, she would not want you to

She’d hope that you can carry on, the way you always do

So talk about the good times and the ways you showed you cared

The days you spent together, all the happiness you shared

Let memories surround you

A word someone may say

Will suddenly recapture a time, an hour, a day

That brings her back as clearly as though she were still here

And fills you with the feelings that she is always near

For if you keep these moments, you will never be apart

And she will live forever locked safe within your heart.

Out of thousands of lovely people I have known, I honestly think that Johanna Bambridge knew and understood me better than almost anyone outside my immediate family. She knew that God has given gifts to everyone, and she encouraged me to use my love of teaching and of Math to try to add fresh joy to the lives of others, especially of children. So, for example, it was with Johanna’s approval that my “Magic Math Assemblies” were born around 10 years ago, and I loved to offer several of those 45-minute fun-packed events every year in the superb theatre at the school.

It was at one such assembly that I learned that Johanna and I both loved John Barry’s music for the film “Born Free”, which was originally released in the USA on 22 June 1966, the day before Johanna’s 14th birthday. So, the photo just below is hyperlinked to a delightful video where you can also hear Andy Williams singing the title song to “Born Free” beautifully, just as Matt Monro did for the actual film.

Click on the photo to see and hear a lovely music video.

The Magic Math Assembly of Wednesday 23 April 2014 was especially dedicated to Johanna, because it was already known that she was going to move to Paris in the summer of that year. Still, Johanna was then rightly even happier and more excited about a really big event scheduled for Sunday 27 April 2014 in St. Peter’s Square, The Vatican City. It was the canonization of Pope John XXIII (at the same time as for Pope John-Paul II). Our school (originally founded in 1964 by FCJ nuns: Faithful Companions of Jesus) is named after Saint John, and at the time we were also starting celebrations for the 50th birthday of the school.

One of my favourite Math surprises that I included in a birthday message was three years ago to Johanna on 22 June 2014, the day before her 62nd birthday.

Dear Johanna,

I want to wish you a very happy birthday tomorrow on Monday 23rd.

Here’s a bit of mathematical fun especially for you, and calculators are certainly allowed!

  1. Start with 23
  2. Multiply by the total number of letters in “UNFORGETTABLE”
  3. Multiply by the total number of letters in “GENEROUS”
  4. Subtract the total number of letters in “WARM-HEARTED”, though that definitely describes you!
  5. Multiply by the total number of letters in


and write down what you now have.

  1. Your date of birth may be 23.6.1952 on paper, but divide 2361952 by what you wrote down above to get the age that you look: only half the age that you thought you’d be on this birthday!

Johanna once wrote, “I know I can’t do a thing without the Lord’s help”, but with His help she made an incredible difference to the lives of thousands of children and adults.

I will finish this small tribute to Johanna today with a quote from Pam Brown, B.1928, which I believe Johanna would have liked: “No act of courage, kindness or understanding is ever lost. Its ripples spread out to the very end of time.”

Author: Paul A. Motwani

My name is Paul Motwani, but my colleagues, my students and their parents mostly call me "Mr. Mo"! My middle initial, A, stands for Anthony, because I was born on the official feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of miracles and of lost souls. I love teaching Mathematics and Chess, and giving fun-packed talks and shows in schools and clubs. The popular ingredients of Math, Chess, Mystery and Magic are my "Fantastic Four", and I give prizes too! I am an International Chess Grandmaster, and (loooooong ago!) I was the World Under-17 Champion. I am the author of five published chess books and hundreds of newspaper articles. I live with my wonderful wife and son in Belgium. I also love music, movies and puzzles. I blog at paulmotwani.com. My e-mail address is pmotwani141@gmail.com. You can find me on Facebook, too.

4 thoughts on “Warm-Hearted, Generous and Unforgettable”

  1. Beautiful Paul. Thanks.

    This was the poem from Mum’s funeral. By David Harkins

    She Is Gone
    You can shed tears that she is gone
    Or you can smile because she has lived

    You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
    Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left

    Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
    Or you can be full of the love that you shared

    You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
    Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

    You can remember her and only that she is gone
    Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

    You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
    Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

    Liked by 1 person

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