Index of Posts: Slices of Shona's Life
Memories of Shona

From Daniel and Heather Conceicao

Remembering Shona

It is very hard to find the right words to express how deeply sorry Heather and I are after hearing of about Shona’s passing. Having known her was a true privilege. We thought we'd share these memories.

Not all who wander are lost…

I was running and panting, for I did not want to be late. Brazilians are known to be always late, not the British. The British are always on time. Shona had agreed to sponsor my application to obtain a UK passport, so I wanted my behavior to fit the Brit stereotype, not the Brazilian, as if I had to earn the sponsorship by displaying enough Britishness. She had said to stop by at 4, so I’d better be at her door at 4.

Despite my efforts, I got to Shona’s door at 4:07. In the end, my turning right when I should have turned left made me lose those precious minutes. Not as late as a Brazilian, but not exactly on time like a true Brit. I apologized for being late and joked that I had to practice being on time if I wanted to be a good Briton. Shona greeted me with that big friendly smile of hers and told me not to fret. She handed me the signed form and invited me to sit for a brief chat. I thanked her and she said that she was happy to help. I could tell by her smile that she was indeed happy to help. She asked me how I was doing. I told her about school work and the trip to Australia which was why I needed the British passport. Then I asked her if she knew whether, if I were to ever marry, my spouse would be eligible to receiving a UK passport. She told me that she was not sure, but wanted to know if I had someone in mind. She had that look that friendly people have when they know the good news, but do not want the surprise to be spoiled. I told her about dating Heather (another student of Professor Randall’s whom she knew very well) and then admitted to thinking about asking her to marry me. Shona smiled approvingly and told me that I could not have found a better person and that we would surely be very happy together. Although the decision had been already made in my mind, it had been the first time that I had told anyone that I wanted to marry Heather. Perhaps the idea of asking someone to marry me still felt too surreal to be discusses with other people. But after seeing Shona react to the news with such genuine joy and give such encouraging advice, I felt ready to tell people about my plans. Soon after that, I told my closest friends and parents that I was going to ask Heather to become my wife.

It had not been the first time when impactful words of encouragement came to me from Shona. I used to tell people that, once I defended my dissertation, a dream of mine was to drive back to Brazil from Kansas City in an old VW bus. Almost everyone who heard it found the proposition humorously unrealistic: “It sounds fun, but be serious. You will never do it.”, they would say. Not Shona. She told me to go for it if that was truly a dream of mine. A few weeks after I had shared my dream over dinner at her place, she sent me this magnet with a black and white picture of a VW bus that said “Not all who wander are lost.” I have looked at that magnet many times since for inspiration. And who knows…  I have not defended my dissertation yet. Maybe I will take that trip after all. But now I will ask Heather to come along.

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