24 August, 2010

Me and Mrs. Jones - Billy Paul

For seven years I worked at an independent living center in Los Angeles.  It was the best job I've ever had.  I went from Administrative Assistant to Executive Assistant to Office Manager while I was there.  The person I was assistant to was Mary Ann, the Executive Director.  She was a quadriplegic wheelchair user and one of the most amazing people I've met.  She had been working in the disability community for over 30 years and was a tireless, motivated, inspirational leader to everyone who knew her.  No, she wasn't a saint and she wasn't perfect but she was one of the good guys.  Not only was she my boss, she was also my friend.  

As you may have guessed, she died a few years ago.  I hadn't been working at WCIL for a while at that point.  I'd tried to keep in touch with her, which for me is a minor miracle considering how well I usually do at such things.  There was a mention in the Center's newsletter one day that Mary Ann had pneumonia.  Not too long after sending her a get well card, I got an e-mail from one of my former co-workers.  Mary Ann had died.  It was a bit of a shock and I was sad, I grieved, all that jazz.  But I dealt with it, life moved on as it does but Mary Ann has always lived on in my heart & mind.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of WCIL or am reminded of it and the people I worked with.    

Fast forward to last Friday and I had the occasion to catch up with another friend and former co-worker who I hadn't spoken to in a long time (told you, I'm terrible at keeping up with people).  In the course of our conversation, he told me in more detail about Mary Ann's death.  It was awful.  She'd suffered horribly and for quite some time.  Man, that seriously laid me out Friday afternoon & evening.  She'd been going through this terrible time and I hadn't been there.  I could have visited, should have been there to support her.  My default is to beat myself up so I did that for a bit.  However, a friend once wisely told me that should've, would've and could've don't count.  One of the most important pieces of advice I've ever been given.  So it wasn't too long before I had to kick myself in the ass so as to stop wasting more of my time.   

Anyway, I know this song is about an extramarital affair and all but Mary Ann told me once how this song was special to her and her husband and ever since then it's reminded me of her.   Since she's on my mind more than usual lately, as well as the fact I needed to write to exorcise the guilt demons, here it is.  Thus will end the death and grieving posts for a bit.  It's been that kind of week & a half or so and I'm done with it.  

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