Today as the rain pours, the sky looks settled for persisting with this behaviour and the wind whips the bamboo into a muted frenzy. As if the weather lazily can’t be bothered to do anything other than persist with this pattern of precipitation. More of the same; it’s January and the citizens of Cardiff will surely be comforted by the gloom so typical of Spring in South Wales. It reminds me of the view other former colleagues had of the one whose funeral I shall attend today. If you asked most people what they thought of her they would most likely be stunned that you were asking, administrative staff seldom invoke a blip on the radar of managerial staff (in my experience). The concept of the team, at least in my day, was not exactly a strong one; those were troubled times. I suspect they are pretty similar today albeit for different reasons. Believing, as I did then and still do, that every employee has a role to play I was understandably unusual. My inability to manage people dispassionately has frequently been at great personal cost; I simply care too much about the impact of the organisation’s behaviour on the individual. This is one reason I prefer to remain freelance i.e. to not have the responsibility for people as even in the top position one cannot guarantee that the managerial style of ones colleagues mirrors ones own.
The ex-colleague in question has died after a long battle with cancer. I don’t doubt she put up a good fight but ultimately it got the better on her. Frail bodies can only take so much no matter how strong the spirit is. She made me laugh because, if you took the time to get to know her, she had a caustic wicked sense of humour; she was actually quite a good judge of character. She could come across a bitter and this did mean people dismissed her. She and I shared a slightly cynical sarcastic view on life; in particular of some of our (then) male colleagues. The way that one in particular responded to additional responsibility with an (unwise and unjustified) arrogance. She had cause to feel this change in behaviour more acutely than me as she worked more closely in a subordinate role to the person in question. I was more senior and able to ignore his ‘attitude’ as long as I got what I needed to do my job. Looking back perhaps I should have listened more rather than simply hearing what lay behind the caustic comments. I will never forget the way she would often respond with a raised eyebrow rather than wasting her breath on something she didn’t agree with or took a dim view of!
Getting to know her better I discovered her love of quilting something I would never have known. I remember discussing a quilting exhibition I had seen in Caersws (Mid Wales) of all places. It was one of those occasions when one does something unplanned and it is an unexpected pleasure. I regret I never saw any of her work but I imagine it was precise and perfectly executed. Was it a solitary pursuit or was she part of a quilting circle? Quilting has a long history of women collaborating; sharing stories; happy and melancholic family incidents; and creating legacy pieces celebrating significant personal and group moments.
I shall remember her fondly; relieved that she is out of pain finally but just a little bit angry that another good woman has been taken too soon. If you take anything from this muse on how much you miss if you are too quick to judge people; often ones prejudices are right but just sometimes you might just meet a kindred spirit in the most unexpected places…