I did an assembly this afternoon at our local Infants School celebrating the life of their School Business Manager, who died suddenly after Christmas:

Wendy Spittal

There are times in our lives when something happens to make us feel very sad. This might be when we lose someone or something we love very much. The death of a friend, a relative, or even a pet can make us feel lost and unhappy. We cannot understand why it has happened.

Sadly, death is a part of life. Every living thing is born into this life and everything eventually dies.

When someone dies we do not see them again and we miss them very much, but we do not forget them and they live on in our memory.

Once the first pain and shock of losing them is over we may begin to talk about the good times we had when they were alive. It is good to talk about them. This helps us to deal with the loss.

Upbringing

Wendy grew up in the St Mary’s area of Southampton. Her dad was a boat builder.

Wendy was very sporty, captaining the school hockey and netball team and becoming head girl. One story about her hockey days recalls her being hit in the mouth by an opponent’s swinging stick. The referee stopped the game and seeing the extent of the injury to Wendy, suggested she leave the field to receive treatment. Wendy was having nothing of it though, refused to leave the pitch and carried on playing!

But equally when she worked for Natwest Bank in their London office, she used to be very concerned about her hair.  This required a rather long journey, and her dad Peter used to drive her to the station to catch the early train. Apparently her father became quite amused over Wendy’s concern for her hair – it had to be absolutely perfect and he certainly wasn’t allowed to open any windows or do anything that might disturb the look!

School

Wendy’s long association with Orchard Infant School began when Peter started in Reception back in 1994(?). Wendy began as a volunteer – helping to set up the school’s library. Apparently the scanning system she helped installed made many of the secondary school librarians rather jealous!

In 1997 Wendy was encouraged to apply for the role of Admin Assistant. She became Admin Officer and then having completed a suitable course at university, she became the School Business Manager. Her other roles at the school included being Treasurer of the PTA for a decade and the School Fair flourished under her guidance.

The School held a special place in Wendy’s life. The reason Wendy loved her work so much was her relationships among the teachers and office team there. She took real pleasure in the company staff especially her team in the school office.

She was always willing to go the extra mile to help people. This was typified by her willingness to help the cleaning staff out when they were short staffed. She would often still be working when the cleaners came in and would take on whatever jobs she was given. The cleaning ladies joked that after a while on cleaning the glass, she was particularly proud to be promoted to hoovering!

Wendy had an extraordinarily quick wit – some have called it a wicked sense of humour.

Family

It’s true that school held a very special place in her heart. But for Wendy, family always came first. Wendy was so proud of her son Peter and all his achievements.

To die aged 55 seems far too young and has come as a real shock for so many.  Her final passing was with peace and dignity. In the words of her family, it was a peaceful end.

Wendy was an incredibly loving, generous, giving and kind person. She loved people and she loved being with people. She will be remembered by so many in this way.

Illustration

Say that this story might help them to understand things more clearly.

Once upon a time there were two little caterpillars. One was called Cathy and the other was called Carl. They lived happily together with lots of other caterpillars, munching away at the thick green cabbage leaves, getting bigger and fatter each day.

One day Carl experienced a strange taste in his mouth. He felt cold but the silken thread coming from his jaws felt warm and comforting, so with twisting and twirling movements he wrapped it around his body. Soon he was completely covered.

Cathy did not recognize Carl any more. She tried to speak to him but there was no reply. She felt very sad and alone. She missed her friend terribly.

Then one day not long afterwards she too experienced the same strange taste and the same cold feeling. The silken saliva oozed from her jaws and she felt she needed to cover herself with its soothing slime. As it enveloped her she felt contented and sleepy. Her eyes closed and she drifted into unconsciousness.

After resting for several weeks Cathy began to stir. She felt strange and different, the same Cathy yet not the same – very odd. The brightness and the warmth around her encouraged her to explore her surroundings. She found herself on the stem of a leafy green plant. On each side of her body, beautiful white wings were gradually inflating in the sunlight. After a while she was able to spread them and glide gracefully into the air.

All at once she was aware of another white-winged creature beside her. As soon as he spoke she knew it was Carl, who had been waiting for her. She was so happy for at last they were reunited.

Further discussion could be developed here. The children may have experienced rearing moths or caterpillars and this would help them to understand the process of metamorphosis.

Jesus’ friends thought that he was gone forever and they were sad, upset and even frightened because their leader had gone. Then, three days later, he appeared to them. He was the same but not the same, he had gone through death and changed. This is what Christians describe as resurrection.

Chris
cskidd1983@gmail.com
Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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