The first stood 4ft 9inches in her stockinged feet and was born in 1897, married, had two children and was widowed in 1919, after the Spanish flu killed my grandfather. As he was an early aircraft engineer, I’d have loved to meet him. However, Nanny Chivers, as she was to us, brought up the two boys single handed, worked as a seamstress to make ends meet and to buy the house that they were to live in. When my parents divorced messily, she took us in and gave us a home, despite being in her 70s. She provided stability at a difficult time.
Her lesson was that despite hardship, life can be very fruitful. Be positive.
The second was my first wife, marrying in my last year of teacher training, eventually succumbing to the ravages of cancer after 31 years, ten years ago. Della was the stability behind our family, a team player, enjoying teaching, in different scenarios, from infants to adults. Our family was a team effort, each had parts to play, enabling everyone to make the most of opportunities. The biggest lesson from this time was that life was worth living.
Every minute and every blessing was made to count. Be positive.
The third was instrumental in rescuing my teaching career, after a year in a school which, although purporting to support teachers, actually was so dogmatic that anything other than compliance was the route to personal abuse. Maida allowed me to talk my way into the job at her open plan, child-and people-centred school, to be able to work alongside a team who all went on to headship. I was allowed to think, to explore and to be creative, to embed quality learning and teaching into the very soul of my being.
Lesson: every person counts. Be positive.
The fourth is my very special M, who walked beside me, literally, as I talked my way back to health after Della died. Quiet and unassuming, her inner strength, insight and understanding enabled the right questions to be asked at the right time, sometimes promoting me to write my reflections in a journal approach, including (poor quality) poetry. Talking and writing my way back to health has allowed me the past ten years of active involvement in broad aspects of education.
Lesson; a healthy mind in a healthy body, a good recipe for life. Be positive.
My gratitude to these four special people is immense. I can say that I would not be the person I am without them. That is what makes them my remarkable people.
For that reason, I owe it to each to be positive and find pleasure in small moments.
I wonder who has had a similar impact on your life?