I always thought of blogs as being narcissistic, business related, or as my sister's, a way of keeping in touch or memorializing.

But, by necessity, I am learning a lot about myself. I find I need to get my thoughts out, and it helps me to know that someone else will read them. So I have created this little space for myself, to express the things I have trouble saying (be it emotional or physical trouble), to share what I'm going through, and what I'm learning through it.

I absolutely welcome comments. It's nice to know how people relate to what I'm saying.
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Sunday, 23 October 2011

More Disjointed Thoughts on Another Passing

24 years ago, my father bought this little company. I remember playing on the stairs, and being in awe of all the fabrics, and the big huge desks. I also remember the warehouse, and the factory room. The huge machines that turned the ties right side out, and the rows of sewing machines accompanied by mounds of half-worked fabrics, the cutting stations, with the patterns worked into the table itself. I also have fond memories of all the people who worked there. I spent a few summers folding handkerchiefs in that space, and then, as I got older, doing data entry, answering the phones, and eventually, in my mid-20's, after the factory was shut down, as coordinator of sales and marketing.

So this company is more than a company to me. It has really formed a part of my professional life and self. It was where I learned many of the skills I use in every job I take on. And the people who worked there when I was a child, and who continued to work there when I did - those people are part of my growing up. It is not one of those relationships that is easy to define, but that place, and the people who were there for so long, are a part of me. My father says that his company is more like a family, and that's not only because there have been so many family members, albeit from several families, involved.

Last week, one of the members of that family, Anna, passed away, after a short battle with cancer. She was around 60. A recent grandmother. And a veteran at the warehouse, and the factory before that. She was a kind woman, stubborn, but sweet. Always busy, always cooking, sewing, lunching with her friends. Her husband continues to work with my father. Her sister in law was the head honcho in the factory, and then the warehouse for many many years until she retired. So again, more family, more ties, more connections.

I went to the viewing with my father. It was shocking. This was my first time at a Catholic viewing. The casket was open. But the body there had nothing to do with the woman I remember. I would not have known it to be her. This was my second time seeing an actual corpse, and the first seeing one like this, in a casket, in a formal setting. Not knowing the protocol, and there being no proper line in front of us to follow, we saw the family, and immediately went first to them. Anna's sister-in-law, she hugged me tight, and then wouldn't let my arms go, saying over and again "We lost a sister. You grew up with her." After we sat down, and the line got longer, we realized that we'd done things backwards and understood the confusion we caused. It's funny because a few months ago, I would have been very embarrassed. But not today. As I told my father, we did not offend the people who matter. If others were offended, by well meaning acts, then so be it. That's their choice.

Afterwards, talking to a former office administrator, she told me how as soon as Anna heard the word cancer, she shut down. She fell into a deep depression, and hardly left her bed again. That made me sadder than anything else that day. Not even the thought of her grand-daughter, to whom she was so devoted, could make her want to live. I spent some time with another former administrator, whose daughter survived a long and difficult fight with cancer, and who is now finding joy in writing and recording music. The contrast was so very poignant.

I do not blame Anna for giving up, I do not judge her, and I do not pretend to even think that I understand what she went through. What I have is not life-threatening, unless I let it get to that point. But sill, it makes me sad, and it makes me wonder. It makes me wonder what it is that makes one person stand up and another lie down.

I came home exhausted, from the activity for sure, but I think more from the emotional exertion. I put quite a lot of energy into shielding myself from the understandably and expectedly high levels of emotions, stress and pain in that room. But I also allowed myself to feel my own sense of loss. I also allowed myself to feel the comfort of seeing so many members of that other family - three separate women who had once worked there, who came to show their support with their families. That showed me that no matter whether I work there or not, whether they work there or not, that these people who were a part of my growing up, they are still family. My family.

More than anything, though, and I wrote this on facebook, this experience is yet another reminder to me that life is precious and fleeting, and it leaves me with the determination to keep on living as fully as I can at every moment. I am more determined to be engaged, and to live in sincerity and appreciation. I am awed by the sheer number of people who have had an impact on my life, and so very thankful that I have not had to attend many funerals in my life. But each time death visits someone near me, I remember more deeply for a while those who have gone before - especially those who were a part of my growing up. The impact that they had on me, is an impact that I am having on others, and so it goes on and on into forever. The circle of life, right? If you are reading this, then I have had an impact on your life, and the fact that you are here is having an impact on mine. I thank you for that.


  1. Sorry for you loss; I've always found open caskets odd, I know for some it's meaningful to see the body, but to me it just isn't the person, I tend to not find it helpful or upsetting, just nothing. It's talking and sharing stories that I like best a viewing/funeral, glad you took the time to do that. Hope you are taking good care of yourself. Love you!

  2. Thanks for the ever-present support, Maggie. You are a rock, even when you're an invisible one. xoxo