Amid the sadness and loss, I try to think about what my friends and family meant to me. In the last year, I've lost three people who taught me a great deal that I use every day to make my life more enjoyable and more productive. My aunt, who passed away in December, spent countless hours during my childhood teaching me - or trying to as I wasn't the most patient student - how to cook, sew, quilt and do other crafts. I even learned to make baskets out of pine needles under her eye. She loved crafts and created decorative and useful items throughout her life. One of the ministers commented on it during her funeral. He said, "She always gave everything away to others. She didn't keep things for herself." He was absolutely right and I'd never noticed that before. She gave of her time and her talents to make other people's worlds more beautiful.
A friend who lived well into her '80's passed away last summer. Nan taught me to crochet when I was in the 6th grade and for years I went to her house weekly to learn new patterns. She taught so many others, too. Crafts were also a valuable part of her life. At her funeral I learned how much she gave of herself to the care and education of others and I marveled at the packed church. While she didn't have any children of her own, she had a large extended family. But many in the church were not relatives and came to the service on the beautiful 4th of July weekend to pay tribute to a woman who inspired them.
What really made me think about all this more was this past weekend we lost a former boss of mine and a friend. Plato didn't teach me to make things; he taught me about building relationships. His thriving business sold and installed a product yet he believed it was all about people. He had a passion for his business and it showed in everything he did. He took care of his employees and had a chivalry that we often joke is extinct. Even though I grew up in a family business, worked for many years a Fortune 500 subsidiary, and have run my own businesses, I apply the lessons I learned from him daily.
I can only hope that these fine people gained a little something from their relationship with me as well. And thinking about what their lives meant to me reminds me of the importance of sharing our knowledge and our concern with others.
Maybe I do need to make more sympathy cards but what I really need to do is send more "Thinking of You" cards.