Thursday, March 02, 2006

Faithful Women II

Grace Irwin retired before I started high school. Elizabeth Wilson, a British woman who had been brought up in the Plymouth Brethren, took over the Latin classes after Miss Irwin retired. Elizabeth Wilson had taken care of her father for many years and then come to Canada. I understood from her that he had been excommunicated and they lived together in social isolation until he died.

Miss Wilson taught Latin to a good sized class. This was mainly due to the fact that our French teacher was not particularly well liked since she practised a certain sort of psychological humiliation, as only French teachers can. The Latin class was made up of escapees.

In Latin we read a lot of poetry, sometimes making silly translations into English, and considered it not too bad at all. We pronounced Latin as if it were Italian behind our teacher's back and she was relieved that we remembered anything at all.

Miss Wilson also taught me Greek several mornings a week for 3 years. I remember more from those classes than any other. Only in looking back do I see that she chose stories and selections that she thought would interest me. Nausicaa, and Andromache, etc. Also Socrates, and the last few chapters of Acts, especially the shipwreck. She had a dry humour and endless devotion to what was more or less a thankless task.

I have often seen or talked to Elizabeth Wilson over the years but we were never really close. My sister and I would get together with her and Miss Irwin in the summer or at Easter. However, the last time I saw Miss Wilson it seemed that something was not right. It turned out that she was in the early stages of Alzheimers.

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