A tribute to Camilla from her family

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A tribute to Camilla from her family

A tribute to Camilla from her family

Following the sad passing of Camilla Wilson, her family thought it would be fitting to round off her blogs with a final collection of thoughts, written by all of the family and voiced by one of Camilla’s children.

Dear St Margarets, staff, volunteers, patients and those who have followed these blogs, I wanted to get in contact to thank you for what you were to mum, Camilla. Sadly on Wednesday (16 March) morning she was finally at peace. The hospice was important in her final months and she was so thankful to her 'Monday group' for the uplifting care. In a way it was time off from her illness. For what you provided mum we are incredibly grateful. She would always tell us about her days with joy and a level of escapism, her recent blogs for you have left me feeling inspired after a week of pain and sadness. 

Inspired to write to you, inspired to create, inspired to remember and honour the most remarkable woman. Inspired to take all that I have been taught and carve out a future that will make my Mum proud. In nature it is common to be bonded to your maternal figure and learn all the most important and vital facts for survival before venturing out alone to face your 'wild'. Polar bears will regularly bear twins that stick closely to their mother for two years, for warmth, for shelter and for the skills to survive. Orangutan's are another species that stick to their mothers for a long period, up to 7 years, and there is speculation that in the wild they will regularly visit up to 15 years. With a life span of around 40 years that demonstrates the important bond with Mother. I have had double the years of care and guidance, of protection and shelter. I have had more time than any other species and yet it is not nearly enough. 

This is Mum to me but she was so much more to so many. Most recently, she was Camilla Wilson of St. Margarets Hospice. The brave lady who is documenting her illness through blogs, radio interviews and a television appearance, the positive force that faced doom filled news with a smile and hunt for the silver lining. Truthful and open about her fears but more importantly so comforting to her family and friends that were dreading her loss.

Previously Mrs Wilson - Deputy Head, Head of Art, Head of Boarding, Teacher and Pastoral carer to her flock of students. Working in boarding schools for over 30 years and a surrogate mother to hundreds upon hundreds of girls. Not the sort of teacher that you look back on with indifference or disinterest but the sort of teacher that you tell your children about as the person that sculpted that special skill or brought out your inner confidence. Of course I would say this, I love my mum completely, but I have proof, proof in spades. Letters and messages have reached us from up and down the country from girls who were so moved by mum that they simply had to reach out. Four sad days have passed since she came to rest and we are filtering through over 120 messages so far. 

I could go back further to where she started as a teacher, her college days in Liverpool or her childhood in Yorkshire. Or I could focus on the hand that she was dealt. Her father died when she was 16, soon into marriage her new husband (Dad) had a motorbike crash that left him 90% blind and unable to pursue his blossoming career. Losing income and their home they were forced to find employment that provided accommodation, hence the boarding schools. In her early 50's she had her first bout of cancer, followed by both hips giving up so she had two hip replacements, and by 58 she was aware of new lumps and within 6 months told that it would be life limiting. 

It feels odd to say we were lucky to reach her 60th birthday in February.

Through all of this I can honestly say that she has never complained of being hard done by or unfortunate. She has never bemoaned the journey or suffered great jealousy of those more fortunate. Instead of all of this she chose to live through her love and passion with others. A true butterfly she could float graciously from group to group and share her colour with all. In a job that requires you to be a teacher during the day and a 'house parent' in the evening, followed by returning to a family of 5 and showing us the love of a mother. The guidance that will be so vital in facing the world, the skills that will be critical to navigate this world. Somehow she always managed to stay up beat and could squash the most worrisome times with a hug.

In life we are lucky to count our years in decades, time to appreciate all the beauty this world has on offer. We have filled these years with so much responsibility and stress. Competition to survive in our wild is as fierce as ever. Please take a lesson from my mum, show those that you love, how much you love them and do it often. Enjoy the movie night in or the Sunday roast as much as the holiday or special occasions. When at your lowest or most frustrated seek out the silver lining. 

I have spent the last 4 days feeling low and cheated of years of special time with Mum. Reading through old notes and looking at photos has made me realise how lucky I am. Lucky that she had time, no matter what, to pass on wisdom, lucky that I have a memory filled with happiness, lucky that I have my siblings and father to continue alongside. Above all lucky that she was my mum.


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