Lois Scott was determined to give her six children a good education.
The problem was she and her husband Leslie couldn’t afford the private school they had in mind. Undaunted, she offered to clean it.
“That was the only way we could keep our children in the church school,” said Mrs Scott, whose husband and children set to work after classes at Bermuda Institute with her at the Seventh-day Adventist school.
She never received the education she wanted. In her younger years, she dreamt of becoming a nurse or a teacher but she was one of ten children; once she’d finished high school, she had to go out and work.
In her mid-30s, with her eldest already in college, she decided to return to her studies. Her job as a secretary wasn’t bringing in enough money and her husband was working around the clock, driving a taxi.
“I was thinking the second child wasn’t too far off,” the 88-year-old said. “I decided I needed a better job; that maybe I needed some training. “I wouldn’t say it was easy studying. It was a challenge, but I coped.”
Her husband Leslie, and the five children left at home, took over the household chores so she could focus.
“My children were really proud to see me studying,” said Mrs Scott who completed her studies in Bermuda and eventually became an enrolled nurse. “They were a studious lot themselves. We all maintained a love for each other. We were a very close-knit family.
“When I graduated I felt very proud. It was an achievement for my family as well because they helped me.”
She worked at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for six years before moving to St Brendan’s.
“That was my niche, working with people who were mentally challenged,” she said of her job at what is now the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute. “I felt my contribution was really needed. They needed people to understand them and to cope with working with them.”
It also meant that she and her husband had more cash to help their children through university: Eugene went into business administration; Pamela, Milton and Lynn became teachers; Derek went into insurance and Judy works in the Pathology Lab at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
“My children worked hard and several of them won scholarships, so that helped a great deal,” Mrs Scott said. “I don’t like to brag, I’m really proud of all of them.
“It was a challenge raising a large family. We didn’t play around with them. My husband would let them get away with murder but I wouldn’t. You have to raise them right.”
Her advice to other parents worried about financing their children’s education: talk to them, and pray about it.
“Help your children to achieve and establish goals,” she said. “And you have to help them, you can’t just say, ‘Go study’.
“You have to teach them a good work ethic and you have to make sure they don’t waste any time.
“Teach them never to give up. If you don’t make sacrifices you won’t get very far. And if your children won’t be going to college, then teach them to be the best at whatever it is that they do.
“To get them to excel, I’d tell them: ‘Good, better, best; never let us rest till our good is better and our better best’.”
If that didn’t get them moving she had another gem: “If you can’t be a stately tree, be a shrub in the valley but be the best shrub you can be.”
At 60, she worked on a pilot programme to move St Brendan’s patients with learning difficulties into a halfway house.
“A lot didn’t need to be living at the hospital but some of them had social issues and family members couldn’t cope,” she said.
The scheme was a success. Mrs Scott, whose husband died in 1994, became the house mother at the Hamilton Parish home; residents affectionately called her “Granny Scott”.
She retired at 70, but continues to visit her former patients when she can.
Lifestyle profiles senior citizens in the community every Tuesday. To suggest an outstanding senior contact Jessie Moniz Hardy: 278-0150 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Have on hand the senior’s full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them