In Loving Memory – Anne Wilson

A photograph of Anne Wilson, taken outdoors, herself taking a photo

Anne Wilson
14th September 1952 –
1st July 2014

Anne was treasured by her brother and so many friends she met throughout in her life – a strong, independent and individual woman with a generous heart who lived a full and colourful life amongst people she loved and who loved her – she will be very sadly missed.

Elizabeth Anne Wilson was born on 14th September 1952 to William and Jessie (later known as Seonaid) Wilson. She was born on a Sunday – true to the saying that Sunday’s child is bonny and blithe and good and gay. She was the first of two children and was to become a sister to James three years later. They enjoyed a loving and happy childhood growing up in St Andrews. Anne was a strong-minded and bright girl who enjoyed reading, music and art. Anne enjoyed the freedom of creativity. She took part in school plays, was interested in languages and was encouraged to explore art at school, at Madras College in St Andrews. Anne went on to attend Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen.

After graduating from art college, Anne had some varied and interesting jobs. If she didn’t like one job, she would find another. She worked one summer in Switzerland, spent 9 months in Australia and sold ice cream from a van on Princes Street. She settled into long-term work which she found interesting with the British Geological Society. Then, later, on to Blackwells, the publishers – firstly in-house and then freelance.

She kept in touch with friends from home who had also gone to Aberdeen and made new friends there too. They were to become ‘the girls’ who met up several times a year. The girls enjoyed so many meals and good times together, often with a quiz at Christmas for which Anne would compile the musical questions. She loved a party and was envied for her ability to go along to a party on her own. Over the years, she stayed in touch with more distant friends by email and kept an interest in writing.

Anne has written 4o thousand words of entertaining episodes while going about her daily activities. She had a great way with words which conjured up an image, especially with her wry descriptions of people whom she observed quite astutely. She was more interested in the people around her than in, for example, history or current affairs – but she had a very quick, imaginative mind which shone through in her conversation and emails.

It was always lovely to be in Anne’s company, she was very witty, knowledgeable and cultured. She could always laugh at herself, never taking offence, even when being teased about her taste in music. She had the rare ability of being able to recognise and laugh at her own shortcomings. A lot of her humour was against herself. And she was nothing short of a genius at cryptic crosswords and excellent at scrabble. She loved trashy TV and liked her films.

She was everything you could want in a friend: her warmth, her wit, her kindness, her interest in and concern about you even when she was going through difficult times herself. You could talk about anything and everything with her – for such an entertaining person she was also an excellent listener, and someone you could freely discuss problems with. She gave great advice and was always so helpful and understanding. She was always very considerate – punctual to the minute – and if she said she was going to do something you knew you could rely on her 100% to do it. Very typical of her clear and precise approach and attention to detail. Someone who labelled things and kept her CD’s in alphabetical order.

A significant part of Anne’s life was her companion house rabbit – a gift from her brother. She went out one day to buy some pansies and came home with a rabbit. So, naturally, she named her Pansy. After Pansy was gone, Anne loved bun sitting and our rabbits. Long after the last rabbit had hopped around her sitting room, she declared that she ought to be ashamed to have found a few bunny droppings under her sofa – but, frankly, she didn’t care and placed them back as a little happy reminder.

That was a great dispensation for Anne as things had to be right in her living environment. She was very particular about the ambiance – the colour, the lighting, the furniture being placed at just the right angle, all blending nicely together – the complete effect pleasing and relaxing. And that was equally important in what she ate and drank or what she wore. She decided she didn’t like chickpeas because they were ‘too earnest’. Anne wore colours that suited her skin tone and shape with a slight bohemian twist. She always looked her best but a lot of it was about her attitude to life which shone through – always positive and upbeat.

She was one of those lucky people who enjoyed lots of things, usually very simple, ordinary things. She could get the same rush of pleasure and excitement from a trip to Ikea that other people would have to jump out of an aeroplane or kayak down the Amazon to achieve. She loved walking outdoors and getting plenty fresh air. And her enthusiasm for life was very infectious – it was impossible to be bored or unhappy when you were with her.

There is a Chinese proverb which hangs in Anne’s office which reads: “It’s better to light one small candle, than to curse the darkness.” She would have liked the simplicity of that proverb and it was obviously something she found inspiring. Anne bore her illness with great courage & dignity, never complaining and doing her best to remain strong and positive throughout it all, keeping going through any setbacks and really appreciating the extra time she had following her treatments. That ability of hers to enjoy little things stood her in good stead latterly.

A friend’s abiding memory of their last conversation, just a week or so before Anne died, is of laughter. To the end, she was her usual chirpy self but her body had become weary. She was able to be at home throughout her illness and spent only two nights at the Marie Curie hospice. It has been a great comfort that it happened very quickly so she didn’t suffer. In the hospice, she had a beautiful room with a planter on a balcony in her line of sight – full of pansies. She was extremely well looked after and very peaceful when it was her time to go and she passed away on 1st July.

Her family and so many friends played their part in her artist’s palette but she painted the picture of her life in her own way. It has been said that “a good friend is hard to find, hard to lose and impossible to forget” – a very apt description of Anne.