So, I met another Mum. She had 3 children, while at the time, I had my older two, and they were the same age as her younger two. That meant many years of sitting outside the same schools together. And in each other's homes at times too. The little girl I want to tell you about was the big sister in that family - a couple of years older than my children. Super bright. Quiet. She always had her nose in a book, or, when the adults sat and talked about global affairs and other such fascinating topics, I remember her sitting quietly, so hardly anyone noticed her, listening, watching, learning. She seemed to fit in more with the adults than she did with the children. I noticed. I used to watch her too. And wonder. She fascinated me. And I always thought that she was going to grow into one amazing woman one day.
I loved talking to her. We loved the same authors. She asked me questions. Her mind worked at lightning speed and mine was still fairly agile back then, so at times it seemed as if we were talking a totally different language compared to the others in the room. We talked a lot. In so many ways she was so like me. She could have been my daughter. That made me smile. Even though she was a child, we shared so many interests. She dreamed about being a doctor, just like I did when I was young. I remember talking to her about the death of my dreams when I came up against a teacher who loathed me, and wouldn't sign the admission application to medical school. The teacher was wrong. But I was wrong by giving up. I told her never to let anyone else decide that her dreams were over. Or give up. She didn't need my advice, by the way. I think she knew exactly what she was going to do.
And she did.
She became a doctor in South Africa, has practiced in the UK and now practices in the States. (There is a great deal more to that part of the story than that one sentence implies, believe me. A WHOLE lot more. My admiration for her tenacity and courage is boundless.) You know my list of Things To Do Before I Die?? I tell you, that
The last time I saw her was, I think, just before we moved back to the UK in 1990. David was a baby. She was in her teens - she went to the same school I went to. See? I told you there was so much we had in common! I have never forgotten her. And I spent a great many moments wondering how she was and where she was, until the Internet put us all in touch once again.
There will always be a place in my heart reserved especially for her, you see. I am SO proud of her. And there is something so special about watching the potential in a child become reality in adulthood. I never doubted it for a second. I like being right. And one day, it would be fun to knock on her door and continue those amazing conversations started 20 odd years ago. One day.