This week we buried an old woman who had a big impact on my life.
Pauline Wilkinson, who was 98 when she died, was my mother’s friend during World War II, when they served together as a nurse in the Volunteer Care Unit caring for wounded soldiers.
They remained in constant contact until my mother died in 2012, seven decades later.
But when I was just eight years old when I started high school in Suffolk, Pauline had a profound effect on my life.
Pauline Wilkinson, who was 98 when she died, was my mother’s friend during World War II, when they served together as a nurse in the Volunteer Care Unit caring for wounded soldiers. Nurses pictured above during the war
This was due to the fact that immediately after the war she married the school principal, և when my parents were trying to decide where I should get an education, she told them: .
It so happened that I found myself on the spring path of privileges, which was mainly reserved for the generations of parents much richer than me.
Located in a magnificent 100-acre house that was destroyed by the Orwell River, the school had its own swimming pool, tennis courts, orange grove, golf course, dark room, observatory, and billiard room.
It was there that I learned the basics of Latin, French, history, geography, essay writing, and math (never my strengths) while enjoying all sorts of extracurricular activities, such as piano lessons, picking wildflowers, and a bamboo hut. building, target shooting, snooker, pottery, photography, ballroom dancing – astronomy.
It was a natural progression from Orwell Park to a public high school, one of the best universities in the country (in my case, Westminster և Cambridge). Nothing less was expected of us in Orwell, as I have always thought, high expectations of children, regardless of their background, are an important part of the education struggle.
I was only eight years old when I started Suffolk’s expensive boarding school, and Pauline had a profound effect on my life. This was due to the fact that immediately after the war she married the school principal, և when my parents were trying to decide where I should get an education, she told them: (pictured)
If teachers understand that they expect their students to learn subjects without excuses for failure, they are more likely to learn.
When I was a child, I could not have imagined where on earth my parents found the money to send me to such an expensive prep school, or I knew that my family was too heavy by the standards of my schoolchildren.
It was only many years after I left that I learned that when my parents complained that they could not pay their dues, Pauline and her principal husband, who also had no children, insisted on making a huge contribution out of their own pockets.
Now I can not imagine how different my life would be if it were not for the generosity of the Wilkinsons.
It is unlikely that I would find myself in almost the same job wherever I went to school.
“When I was a kid, I never thought about where my parents found me on earth to send me to such an expensive prep school, or that I knew my family was too heavy by the standards of most of my schoolchildren,” Tom wrote. Utley (pictured)
But what I do know for sure is that my progress towards a well-paying job with the best British education system would have been much smoother had it not been for Pauline’s friendship with my mother, the solid foundation I received at Orwell Park. I’m lucky, I know that.
I just wish the opportunities I had were open to more children whose parents are having a hard time. If you ask me, the return of the gymnasiums would be a great start. But that’s another day’s column.
Suffice it to say that Pauline’s funeral on Wednesday was an occasion for me to reflect on my great fortune, how inadequately I thanked him for the leg he gave me for his kindness.
I am ashamed to admit that I had not seen him for about 40 years when I heard about his death. As for my job, my four children that I had to raise, I kept telling myself that I was too busy to travel from my suburb of South London to his nursing home in Sudbury, Suffolk.
It is distorted
As many of us think at funerals, it is too late to say what we have left unsaid. This is a thought that has been running through my head lately, as Pauline’s funeral was the third one I have attended alone in the last two weeks.
At the same time, one of my dear family friends has just died, the date of his requests has yet to be fixed.
Indeed, since our firstborn son is to be married this summer, I suppose you can summarize my diary commitments this year as Four Funerals և Wedding. It’s one of the sorrows of growing up to be invited to the first rather than the second.
But this last series of funerals also brought me home with an unusual egg that distorts our view of the passage of time.
True, I’m far from the first to point out that in our childhood, time seems to be endlessly long, especially when we are counting the hours and days until Christmas or the end of the semester.
At 68, though, it’s really a thing of the past, and Christmas decorations are less likely to go down in a year than it’s time to put them back on.
It seems to me only yesterday, when I joined the staff of the Daily Mail. But now, to my surprise, I find myself offering my weekly walks on these pages in just a few weeks, less than 16 years. Quite long, many will say.
Likewise, I was amazed at Pauline’s funeral to know that when I arrived at Orwell Park, she was still 40 years old. At my age, of course, thirties just seem like kids.
For me, eight years old, though, was the director’s wife, well, if not really old, then at least a formidable middle-aged figure with whom she was not confused.
Then I began to think that if I reached the age of 98 Pauline, which is very unlikely, I would allow, given my disgust with exercise, my addiction to tobacco and alcohol, I would still have 30 years to live.
At first, this seemed like an era. But then I thought that the third of our four boys is already 30 years old, և it seems to me that only the next day I was present at his birth.
But I do not want you to think that I have spent the past two weeks in those churches and crematoria, gloomily wondering how little time I have left. On the contrary, I consider funerals to be not only desperately sad but also inspiring.
A well-chosen anecdote in praise can illuminate the character of the deceased, uniting friends, family, warm memory, gratitude for life.
So I will end with a sweet story told at Pauline’s funeral. As I well remember one of my days in Orwell Park as one of the principal’s wives, one of her jobs was to buy a list of toys with our own pocket money. , balsa wood sliders և etc. Then he would go to the nearest Ipswich to buy them for us.
On the occasion, he reported to the nine-year-old that he regretted, but he could not find what he wanted.
“Do not worry,” said the child, adding that “thank you very much for trying,” after which he squeezed six pennies in his hand as a reward for his efforts.
In his honor, Pauline did not reject the 2.5p coin և did not laugh (except when he later told his adult friends).
Instead, he accepted the tip in the spirit in which it was offered. I call that class, it’s Pauline.
Look at this column as a token of my appreciation for the tremendous role he played in shaping my happy life. But unlike me, do not be too late to thank those who have treated you well.
TOM OUTLE. I left too late to thank the woman who made my life happy
Source TOM OUTLE. I left too late to thank the woman who made my life happy