Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In Memoriam: A Reason I Love My Job

Every morning I have coffee with the local farmers. This morning one of them said, as he turned to the Obituaries, "Let's see who I know today"; commenting after it seems so many of his friends has recently died. I don't know why I looked, but there was a name I knew: It was one of my Seabourn clients.
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The strange, but nice thing, was that I was not immediately sad, but thought about how much her husband cared for her during her long illness and that I was fortunate to be on their last cruise together. I will call them John and Mary.
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You think you know the type of people; the ones that want to be sure everything is taken care of in advance. But for John it was not a matter of it needing to be perfect, but rather he had a big task in front of him in making sure Mary was able to enjoy this cruise. He (no spring chicken) would need to be able to manage it all as he had to take special care of Mary throughout the trip.
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Logistics with luggage; renting a wheelchair (I eventually bought a travel wheelchair for them), etc., all needed to be dealt with special considerations.
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Once onboard the Seabourn Legend I saw what "it" is all about. John and Mary, married for 50+ years, were in love. It was hard work and exhausting for John, and at times (when Mary couldn't come along on land excursions) lonely, but John was intent on living for himself and for loving Mary. Both John and Mary were very social people, but they always ate diner by themselves...because that is what they liked to do.
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I recall being in Marseilles sitting outside at "the" restaurant having a classic bouillabaisse with my wife. I glanced inside and there was John, alone, having his bouillabaisse. I felt a bit sad that he was experiencing it alone as I was sitting with my wife having a romantic moment. When I approached him his eyes lit up and said with enthusiasm, "How could I come to Marseilles and not have bouillabaisse?" John taught me something just then: You can be in love with your wife, but you also have to remember to be in love with life. There are no medals for doing otherwise.
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I hope through the sadness of these days John will remember his last cruise with Mary with fondness and a smile. I know that I do and that I need to be content with the fact that I was able to make their last one a bit easier and a wonderful memory.
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And, for me, Marseilles will not be foremost in my mind for Shopping with the Seabourn Chef, the early morning fish market or "the girls" going on a bit of shopping spree. No, for me it will be about how to enjoy bouillabaisse.