A True Hero

Here is part of today’s Octpowrimo prompt:

“Today we’re going to focus on the people who have influenced on our lives for the better, such as our parents, poets (for any Rumi fans, Coleman Barks is one of the thinkers in the film), philosophers, educators, scientists and our next door neighbor. Perhaps our child. Maybe it is a stranger you met one time and the conversation you had with that five-minute friend changed the direction of your life.
Today we are going to focus on their story in relationship to your story – our story – and how your lives have intersected.”

In my 76 years a great many interesting people have crossed my life – quite apart from those closest to me –  but thanks to the internet I am able to finish the story of the  wonderful man I first encountered  in 1954 when I was a very young secretary in the West Indian section of the BBC.

A True Hero

Ulric Cross, DSO, DFC

Ulric Cross
was my first boss
a dashing young man
with an infectious grin.
I was seventeen
and green as green.

The first Trinidadian I’d ever seen,
he was funnier than any boss should be,
just after the war when he’d won DSO and DFC –
a flyer, mad on cricket and full of stories told with glee.

My introduction to the world of work
could not have been more fun,
with carte blanche to take on any task,
even those beyond my capability,
with never a Cross word when I boobed,
learning to work with adaptability,
able to take on responsibility.

We lost touch when I moved on
and so did he, a junior producer at the BBC,
he rose to dizzy heights in the law
attorney general, High Court Judge, University Dean,
finishing at the top of the diplomatic tree.

Last year I found him again through the World Wide Web. I wrote to him, he emailed me, with an invitation to his ninety-fifth birthday party in Trinidad, which I had to decline for health reasons.  Last week I received a sad message from his daughter that he had died on 3rd October this year. You can read the incredible story of his life in the Daily Telegraph obituary, from which the picture at the top of the poem was taken, but the original is in the RAF Museum.

Also posted at dVerse Open Link Night

About https://vivinfrance.wordpress.com

All poetry, prose and pictures posted here, except where otherwise stated, is my own, and may only be used elsewhere with my expressed permission. Please don't be inhibited from correcting my bloopers and making suggestions: Most of what I post here is instant, ill-considered and off-the-cuff, in serious need of editing.
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19 Responses to A True Hero

  1. SevenAcreSky says:

    Incredible, Viv. One of those figures that appear in our lives and make such a deep difference in who we come to be. What a privilege to have had that influence. Your poem was a fitting honor.

    Like

  2. RJ Clarken says:

    What an astonishing tribute for a man who was so obviously a hero. He is the kind of person I think we all need in our lives, because our lives would be that much richer for the knowing.

    Like

  3. Andra Negroiu says:

    Wow, Viv – it’s great that you had such a wonderful first boss. My boss is (usually) the same kind of person and it’s a pleasure to work in such an environment. 🙂

    Like

  4. We haven’t heard from you recently, Viv, so popped over to see you very busy here. And this piece, so delightful. Glad to find you active and seemingly well.

    Like

  5. Margaret says:

    Splendid! Those wonderful people who inspire us are never, ever forgotten. I’m glad you were able to contact him before he passed away. Quite the handsome man!

    Like

  6. Viv, what a wonderful tribute and an interesting story.

    Did you send the poem to his daughter?

    Like

  7. Tony Maude says:

    He sounds like the kind of person I’d like to work for/with … and his success seems to prove that you don’t have to be an awful person to rise to the top.

    Like

  8. Awww! This is a great poem, & a great memory. I still remember my favorite boss from my youth. 🙂

    Like

  9. Pat Hatt says:

    making it fun is the way to be, sounds like he was great to thee

    Like

  10. Touching tribute to someone who, its apparent, had a profound effect on your life. Real heroes often go unnoticed, I believe.

    Like

  11. Mary says:

    How wonderful that after many years you were able to find him again on the World Wide Web and let him know the part he had played in your life. I am sure he must have been touched! What an honor to have been invited to his 95th birthday party, even if you were not able to make it. Some connections matter for a long, long time to come.

    Like

  12. brian miller says:

    that is pretty cool that you found each other again…my first boss was mike…he taught me life on the loading dock…i knew several trinidadians from a church i worked at years ago…they are pretty cool people….

    Like

  13. Viv.. I love that you could connect with him after all this years. So good to have such an introduction into your professional life. 🙂

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  14. claudia says:

    oh wow…he sounds like a wonderful man… i wish we had more bosses like him… i can imagine how inspiring this must have been just at the start of your work life… just one down side..i bet you never had another boss in your life that could compare to him..

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  15. Sherry Marr says:

    Viv, what a wonderful first boss to have – encouraging you to try, stumble and get back up. He lived a remarkable life. I loved reading about him. So glad you contacted him when you did, you will have made him remember that time fondly…..and know he had made an impact on you,. It is always so nice to hear from someone who tells you “you made a difference.”

    Like

  16. restlessjo says:

    What a lovely tribute to the youthful Mr. Cross. That doesn’t sound at all like an appropriate name, Viv. Enjoyed your poem. 🙂

    Like

  17. colonialist says:

    A wonderful man indeed! How satisfying it is that his outstanding success at all endeavours came to such a nice man.

    Like

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