Patty, a colleague at work, died this past week. The details of her passing aren't all that important, other than the fact that she knew it was coming. Like all things Patty, I have no doubt she was her own wonderful self up until the end.
To explain even why I'm writing this posting I first need to go back to February of 2017. I was starting a new job with a new company. This was the first "new" company I had worked for in over 28 years. Having spent those 28 years thoroughly dipped in the culture of one organization, I didn't know what to expect on my first "new job" day. Fortunately for me, I knew one or two people there, and there also happened to be some folks who were simply kind to me from day one.
The latter was Patty.
I am not exaggerating when I say that Patty was just about the kindest human being I have ever met. While we didn't work together, we worked in the same office area, which afforded me the possibility of getting, for the benefit of my own sanity and soul, a daily dose of Patty. That almost always came just as I was nearing the end of some rope, with my usual way of dealing with professional stressors mainly consisting of going for a walk. There was a routine to my walk: Before heading out, I always checked with Patty first*. On the surface, my checking in with her was to see what the weather was like outside. About 2 millimeters below the surface? I just needed a dose of Patty's kindness and optimism. Even when the weather was bad and I had to partake of an indoor walk, I still always tried to check with Patty first. Instead of "what's it like outside Patty?" my banter was more along the lines of "did you go for a walk today Patty?". It never mattered specifically what Patty told me on those days; it was all just about getting that daily dose of kindness and optimism.
It was a jolt to all of us at work when Patty became ill. After she left for medical care I found myself still looking towards her office, almost reflexively. Intellectually I knew she wasn't there, but part of me still needed that daily dose of kindness and optimism. I still need it, maybe even more than before.
Now? Things are challenging at work. That's not a criticism, but rather a statement of fact that almost all of my co-workers would admit to if given the opportunity. Those challenges are independent of Patty, but yet since she left, well, the place is now just a little bit worse.
If there is a moral to all of this, well, I think it's this: All of us spend an awful lot of time dealing with the "anti-Patty" types of this world. This includes the complainers, the mean-spirited, the negative, and the unkind. Maybe, just maybe, we need to spend more time dealing with the Pattys instead. Better yet? Maybe we all need to be more Patty-like ourselves.
Rest in Peace Patty.
(*) In addition to being one of the kindest human beings on the planet, she was also very healthy, always encouraging her co-workers to eat well and exercise.