I was named after this lady who died soon after her 45th birthday several years before I was born, so we never met. However, as I grew up I always felt I knew her as this photo was prominently displayed in our home and I liked her warm smile. I knew little of her, except that she was a very kind lady who had taken my father under her motherly wing when he was a teenager far from home, family and friends, and that he held her in very high esteem.
It’s been many years since I thought of her or saw her photo, but I opened a drawer recently and there it was. I asked my mother about her, and she produced a letter with two scraps of paper that had been in my father’s Ditty Box. The letter was from Mr Mawle, Mrs Dobson’s brother, who was my father’s employer for many years (she had recommended him for that job), received several months after her death and enclosing a £5 note as a minor bequest – a decent amount in 1934, more than my father could earn in a week.
The friendly, typewritten letter from Mr Mawle as the executor of Mrs Dobson’s will was clear. But what were these scraps of paper? One, clearly torn from a notebook, is written in elegant copperplate. Mrs Dobson was a dispensing chemist, or pharmacist, so it is possible that this is her handwriting: as a businesswoman in the early twentieth century, she would have needed a clearly legible hand.
My parents had just become engaged. Was this advice given by someone who took a maternal interest in the young fellow and his fiancée? A generous, philanthropic woman who had encouraged him to reach his potential, caring for his personal and spiritual welfare? Or was it a set of precepts from man to man from Mr Mawle, a successful businessman as well as an honourable and admirable role model who had taken on his sister’s young protégé, found him a job and a place to live, and trained him in a trade he enjoyed? We can only conjecture. Lt. Norman Reginald William Mawle had been a flying ace in the First World War, and I believe it was he who encouraged my father to join the RAF in the Second World War, keeping his job open for him when he returned. He was a kindly, caring employer and my father greatly admired and respected him.
Did Dad take this advice to heart? My father was an impulsive, quick-tempered redhead, so perhaps he needed reminding to curb his passions and his tongue. My mother chuckled, and wasn’t very forthcoming on that point.
The second paper is mentioned in the covering letter and presents no mystery. It was written in Catherine Dobson’s last days, as she lay dying of cancer, knowing that her life on earth was coming to an end. It is a very moving last message to her friends, full of faith, hope and love. No, I never knew her in person, but I am pleased to have been named in her honour.
This may be my last morning on earth. I am so glad it is such a lovely morning; full of brightness – no clouds. It makes me glad – and if I pass on I want all those who love me to try and feel bright about it because I am so happy in having had such glorious friendship, and now I feel at peace.
I am very grateful for the love I have received and freely tried to pass on and can rest safely in the Everlasting Arms.
Give my love to all my friends.
Oh, Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary self in Thee.
* Transcript: This paper says:
Just do a thing & don’t talk about it. This is the great secret of success in all enterprises. Talk means discussion, discussion means irritation, irritation means opposition & opposition means hindrance always whether you are right or wrong.
A wise man when he married entered in his journal on his wedding day the following resolutions:-
First – Never except for the best reasons to oppose my wife’s will.
Second – To discharge all duties for her sake freely.
Third – Never to scold.
Fourth – Never to look cross at her.
Fifth – Never to worry her with commands.
Sixth – To promote her piety.
Seventh – To bear her burdens.
Eighth – To overlook her foibles.
Ninth – To save, cherish and forever defend her.
Tenth – To remember her always in my prayers.
Thus God willing we shall be blessed.
– M. Cole