Monday, August 15, 2011

A Rare Opportunity

Sometimes people do great things for us and we move away and lose touch. As years go by, the understanding of just how much gratitude we owe that person gets deeper and deeper and we wish we could see them again to tell them just how much they affected our lives. Quite often, it isn't possible.

I had an extraordinary teacher in 1976. I have spoken of her often, and remembered the things she taught me. I didn't think I would have a chance to see her again in this life, and I very much wanted to tell her how much she meant to me - and still does. She was a petite Franciscan nun whose face radiated with joy. She was so excited about what she was teaching that her words would trip over themselves. That joy and enthusiasm made the message go straight in to the head of even the scattiest kid. She was gentle, funny, sweet, warm and holy, and quite irresistible, even to the stern Calvinist School Inspector.

I recently found an old friend, Fiona, on Facebook. She wrote Matric in the same year that I did, and she still lives in Durban. She is coming to England to visit her daughter in September, and I can't wait to see her.

She was also one of Sister Lucy's pupils, and astonishingly recently met up with her again. Fiona and her husband Rob teach adults Christian Doctrine, and Sister Lucy is also one of the teachers. Fiona passed a verbal message from me to Sister Lucy and then I emailed her, care of Fiona. She is 83 years old and living in the convent for frail Franciscan Sisters in Durban. We spoke on the phone. I was brimming over with gratitude that I was able to thank her for all she is and for all she meant to me. It is so seldom that we are granted such an opportunity.

But it gets even better. She said she was going to visit Ireland for two months to visit her frail older sister, and as soon as Sean heard that, he suggested we go and see her there. We fly to Shannon on Friday. He has heard so much about her over the years that he feels he knows her too. I really hope it all works out, but even if it doesn't, I am so blessed to have been able to email her and speak to her.

Here we are:

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