a stranger yesterday. He did it in full view of a lot of other people in our local shopping centre.
At the beginning of this year a teacher at one of the local schools asked if I could give one of the year 12 students some help. She told me he was "very motivated but he is having some problems".
I agreed cautiously to meet the boy. He was very quiet but also very polite and yes, very motivated.
It took a while but (and I am saying this with his permission) I eventually discovered that he was motivated for a reason. His mother had been 42 when she had him. His father had been even older. His father died when he was just nine. His mother was not expected to live more than a few months. He desperately wanted to at least finish year 12 but he also had a part-time job because they needed the extra income.
Doing year 12 is tough enough without the need to do a part-time job and care for a very sick parent.
I helped him reorganise his study time-table. The Senior Cat, who has long been interested in how people learn, gave some extra suggestions with respect to study skills. Through the year I read his written work and suggested ways it could be improved. It did not take a lot of time.
Occasionally I would offer him "a bit of extra baking" or some garden produce. I tried to do it in a way that would not make him feel as if he was accepting charity.
His mother died in late August and I wondered if he would go to pieces.
He could have gone to live with his grandparents in another state at that point. No, he was going to finish Year 12 for his mother. He had promised her he would do it. His school was supportive and managed to get him some social welfare assistance. He stayed on in the house alone. One of the neighbours provided his evening meal and kept an eye on him.
I saw him yesterday. He introduced a very elderly man as his grandfather. I found myself being hugged.
"Good results then?" I asked
"Yes, I left you a message with your Dad - 98.5," he told me.
"The lad's going to the university next year," his grandfather told me, "We'll manage it somehow."
I am sure they will. He is going to make a very good doctor.