Teaching by example!

I mentioned previously that I was going to do some work for Mary Stevens Hospice. Since the training I was assigned a client to visit on a weekly basis. Due to confidentiality reasons, I’m not allowed to name this person so lets call him ‘R’

‘R’ is an elderly male who has suffered several heart attacks, thus rendering his heart only part functional and consequently left him bed ridden with a grim prognosis. He has told me that should he suffer another heart attack, as his quality of life is likely to worsen he has instructed the medical services not to resuscitate him.

The reason I was paired with him was that I documented that one of my interests was travel, this was also an interest of my client.

The visits lasts a couple of hours, enough time for his wife to get out and about during that time. To date I’ve been there on 3 occasions.

They have a very nice house in a nice area that is becoming to their status in life as both were head teachers.

‘R’ is still very alert and it’s been very interesting listening to his stories and indeed sharing each other views on a variety of topics, such a travel, religion and general life matters. Although I do have to remind him from time to time that I am a mere mortal with a limited amount of brain cells. Never the less we seem to bounce off each other, this maybe due to our similar outlook on life even tho we have totally different backgrounds.

As to their family network, not surprisingly all are either Doctors, Teachers, Solicitors, Bankers etc etc. So it’s clear to see that they are like-minded and born from ‘good stock’. Family genes and upbringing is very clear to see and is certainly no coincidence! Another interesting fact and one that I’ve always thought and that is, being academic has little to do with entrepreneurship as notably was the absence of business owners. That is not to say to two elements need to be separate, indeed, being highly academic and an entrepreneur is an ideal combination, it’s just that in my humble opinion the two are not necessarily connected.


Before ‘R’ was bed ridden they used to own a boat (many over the years) and when they were both teaching they used to take the full 6 weeks school holiday and venture down the coast and each year had an amazing time, as they did travelling thought-out the world. This if nothing else serves as a reminder to ‘live life’ wherever you can whilst keeping eye on on the future. “Any regrets of things you’ve done and wished you hadn’t or things you’ve not done and wished you had” I asked. He thought for a while and was clearly struggling for an answer, I said I think you’ve just answered!

The academic side I don’t so much envy, however, what I really do regret (for want of a better word) is the ‘non emotional, intelligent’ way they approach disagreements. For example, should, on the odd occasion, they wish to ‘air’ their differences they would wait until the kids were in bed then sit around the table and calmly debate the issue. This then led to him saying that over the years they had never had a heated disagreement. My first question after hearing this was “I bet your parents were the same?” “Yes” was the unsurprising answer. “I’m going to guess your children are the same?”, you guessed it “yes” was the answer. I can remember thinking this so sounds like me. ‘R’ & me have so much in common! The only difference is that my children insisted on also sitting at the table to intellectually contribute to the subject matter before they took to their rooms for their 4 hours of study and 1 hour of violin practice each night!

On a serious note, I really do envy the calm and collected way they deal with situations. Being brought up without any conflict in the family would be an immense grounding for any child, couple this with thoughtful un-emotional reasoning, this would surly be a great recipe for a successful well balanced happy life. Although, as with real recipes, there are no guarantees and on the odd occasion the dish can and does go horribly wrong!!

Personally I think if we all learn from our parent’s mistakes, over generations, in time, with mindful determination we should dilute the toxicity and hopefully one day arrive to where ‘R’ and his family are. Having said that, choosing the right partner is also critical to perusing that lifetime goal! The alternative to that is using the learnt negative emotions (anger etc) as an excuse for your own misgivings, however, on a positive note you could end up on national tv on the Jeremy Kyle show!


So being the great philosopher that I am, the message is to be realistic as to your faults and attempt to learn new and better ways. It will be an uphill road so maybe 10 steps forward and 9 steps back but look at it as 1 step nearer to being a better person. Keep chipping away and should your siblings do the same, one day it will happen even if you’re not around to see it, at least you can say you’ve tried to do you bit to improve from previous generations.

Sorry that was a bit heavy and well done for staying awake and reading this far!!


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