Joan Wilson has just celebrated her 90th birthday with her family, including six great-grandchildren.
The Grand Dame of the Wilson clan says her memory is not what it used to be, but the learned schoolteacher is still clearly evident to this interviewer as she clearly recalls her childhood in Pubble near Tempo, school days in the Collegiate, happy student days in Stranmillis teaching college and the enjoyment she felt from performing music.
I spent a very enjoyable but emotional four hours talking with my neighbour, Mrs Wilson, whom I always admired from afar or from the distance of a generation gap.
I was only 12-years-old when the blast from the Enniskillen bomb shook the windows of my bedroom one Sunday morning in 1987, but I was old enough to be embarrassed to be from the nationalist community in my hometown after that abomination.
Two doors to the right from my parents’ house, our neighbour had lost both his parents in the atrocity. His sister lived at the far end of our road to the left.
Our next door neighbour was a newly-appointed minister of the Enniskillen Presbyterian Church who conducted the funerals of several of his congregation in the week after the bomb.
Five doors to the left of our house a young neighbour, Marie Wilson, had lost her life aged just 20. I was glad to be too young to be expected to look my neighbours in the eye.
It has to be said though, that it is unfair to only describe Marie Wilson’s mother in terms of her loss… for she has led a full life with many blessings.
As an only child to devoted parents, the young Joan was afforded every opportunity and shown immense encouragement to fulfil her potential.
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