Last week, I wrote to Lower School families with the sad news that Pam Whalley’s 93-year-old mother had passed away in England. Fortunately, Pam was there with her family and today is participating in the celebration of her mother’s life.
I was able to connect with Pam yesterday. I again offered my condolences, and we then talked about the last two weeks and about her mother. Pam explained that despite the fact that her mother was 93, her death was a surprise. Prior to developing pneumonia, she was leading a vibrant, fully engaged and very connected life.
As Pam described her mother, she talked about her life in a small English village and what a strong and wonderful presence she was within the village. Pam’s mother apparently had an unusual ability to connect with others – all types, always reaching out, always making time for people. Pam’s mother was known for doing things for others. She baked cakes to welcome new people to the village and to support and help friends, neighbors and acquaintances during difficult times. She played a very key role in the village for so many – young and old. She played this role by being herself.
One of her last words to Pam and her sister instructed them to take 20 pounds from her purse and give it to one of her nurses (she couldn’t remember the nurse’s name) who is running a marathon and was looking for sponsors. Despite her frailty in her last days, she continued to think of others, and it was important to her that the nurse be supported and encouraged in her race.
There is a saying about “a life well lived.” Aren’t we fortunate to have so many wonderful examples to inspire us? I didn’t know Pam’s mother – but she has had an impact on me, and I am grateful.
North Shore Country Day School is a private, college-prep school for high school, middle school and elementary school students in Winnetka, IL, a suburb of Chicago.