Yesterday I took Holy Communion to a housebound 90+ year old parishioner. She joined in the words of the short liturgy, which she hadn’t done before, and it became clear that she had difficulty reading the service leaflet. Failing eyesight and deafness may have had something to do with it, but I had the strong impression that she had probably had a fairly limited education. I suddenly saw her as one of that heroic generation that had left school at 14, or even earlier, gone to work, e.g., in a factory, and had slaved, scrimped and saved to ensure that their children would have a decent schooling and a better start in life. She reminded me of my own grandparents and great-grandparents, some of whom were ‘half-timers’ (i.e., working mornings in the factory and attending school in the afternoons), and several of whom were illiterate.
There are no medals for such as these, but, to paraphrase, ‘It is they who have made us and not we ourselves’.