Mum’s outlook born of belief in people

Ruth Carraway, of Milton, proudly bears her mum’s life advice tattooed on her arm, as a permanent...
Ruth Carraway, of Milton, proudly bears her mum’s life advice tattooed on her arm, as a permanent reminder to look deeper. Below: Essex probation officer Myra Carraway, taken in the early 1970s. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON
South Otago youth and prison worker Ruth Carraway talks about parental advice she received — and sometimes listened to.

What was your mum’s name?

Myra Carraway, of London.

What did she do?

She was a single mum and probation officer in Laindon, Essex. Carraway House probation centre in Laindon was named in her honour, after her untimely death from cancer in the 1980s.

What is the best advice your mum gave you?

It’s a quote from The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: ‘‘It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’’ Mum loved looking after people, and believed that surface appearances meant nothing compared to what was inside. She was a firm believer that everyone has good inside them and the more we can walk in others’ shoes, the more we can come to understand and help each other.

What is the worst advice your mum gave you?

‘‘If you continue to wee in the alley, you’ll never amount to anything.’’ When we were kids in Essex, in summertime we all used to run wild from dawn till dusk. This meant we simply wouldn’t go home and, if we needed to wee, we’d just go in the alley out of the way — or so we thought. So I got home one night and Mum said I must need to use the loo after being out all day. I hopped from foot to foot pretending I did, but she’d seen me in the alley earlier in the day. So I learnt a double lesson that day. Never fib and never wee in the alley — a lesson in self-respect and respect for others.