Saturday, 23 October 2010

Life...precious life.

**Post originally typed on August 23rd, 2010, but I held off publishing until now**

Today, I go a sharp reminder that life is precious...and oh so fragile.

A former co-worker of mine...well, he was more than a co-worker....let me explain...

Walter and I were two of ten people who founded the "RSC", the inside sales department at the company I have been with for 13.5 years. Walter was brand new to my company, and so were all of the other employees in the RSC. Being the pioneers in a brand new department, we were excited about what was in store for us. We were led by yet another new employee to the company. He was a fantastic, compassionate, fearless manager and we all respected him and loved him.

All of the new employees were different. We had men, women, Jewish, Christian, gay, straight, Muslim, fat, thin, tall, much diversity in a department of 13 or so people, but we all got along so well. We were a really close-knit bunch, all in the same scary boat...would it sink, would it float?

Anyway, Walter was our used car salesman. He had that cheezy grin, that cheezy line and the silly jokes and puns that made you roll your eyes in disgust, but the customers LOVED him. They ATE.HIM.UP. His numbers were always the highest and he did it almost effortlessly. That's not to say that he didn't work hard, because he did, but he was just a natural born salesman.

Walter would bring us Krispy Kreme donuts when they first came to Canada. Walter would make us laugh and keep our spirits high on the lowest of days. Walter was, well, Walter.

Every once in a while, he would try to prank us, and succeeded a couple of times...turning our name plates upside down, switching stuff from desk to desk, but the BEST April Fool's Day was when *I* got him. I unplugged his headset and taped the receiver button down on his phone and when he tried to answer a call, the caller couldn't hear him. He was saying, "Hello...yes I am here...hello??" All of us knew about it but him and we were in HYSTERICS in our cubicles...laughing at finally getting him back for all the times he got us. When he finally figured it out, he laughed as hard as us and shook his finger at me..."You got me Ms got me!" We had so many good times back then...

Walter adored his wife...absolutely WORSHIPPED the ground she walked on. He spoke of such love and devotion of his wife that you would honestly think it was a romantic movie with cheesy lines and all. He often told me how lucky and blessed he was to have such a woman to call his wife. When I finally met her, I knew exactly why he was so taken with her. She is such a warm and loving person...I felt like I'd known her forever when I met her at our company Christmas party. Her eyes are so sweet and kind...Bonnie is just amazing.

Walter often spoke of his two boys. He was more than the typical proud father who goes on and on about his kids. Every day, he had a story about his sons...prouder than punch at all the wonderful milestones his boys would reach...showing us all photos upon photos of those sweet little guys. Don't get me wrong here...I loved to see them...I felt like I knew them through their doting father...I loved those kids, though at that time, I had never met them.

Over time, some people left, new people joined and some were promoted. Walter was promoted to a field sales rep, so we didn't see him as often as we would have liked, but when he did come to the office, he always came with Krispy Kreme donuts. He just rocked that way. When he called, he always asked about us and made a few jokes...he was the same old Walter, just in a better position. He never forgot his roots...never forgot us "little people".

At some point, Walter left the company for bigger and better things. We lost contact a little, but he did call me a couple of times asking for a reference (I was a team leader at this point). I always wholeheartedly agreed to give him a reference.

A couple of years passed and I hadn't heard from Walter, but I knew through the grapevine that he did still play poker with a few of the old RSC'ers. I still work with a couple of them and was at a training course with one of them back in February. We got to chatting and my co-worker told me that Walter had been diagnosed with cancer. LUNG cancer. Walter didn't smoke.

I was shocked. After all, Walter was only in his early 40's. My co-worker gave me the link to Walter's Caringbridge site and I read his whole story. It ends up that he has Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma with a rare twist to it. About six months ago, things were looking good and through the last six months, it seemed that the cancer was losing.

I saw Walter in the early summer because we gave him a free bouncy rental for ione of his son's birthdays. He looked great! Bald, but great! He had high spirits and was sure that he was going to kick cancer's butt. He was so convincing and so positive.

We have kept in touch over Facebook since that day and today, he private messaged me...I had asked for experienced parents' advice on Threepeat's upcoming asleep dentistry...

Hello Mrs. B, I hope all is well. My son was put under for his "dentist" appointment but he had it done at the hospital (two cavities and they pulled two teeth as well). Just let Threepeat pick whoever he wants to be with him at the time. If he picks Hubster, then Hubster it is.

Can I give you a call, there is a couple things that I would like to talk to you about, first being your generous offer again for B's birthday and something else as well.


I called him back and after our initial pleasantries, Walter dropped the bomb. "I have been placed in palliative care because the doctors feel that I have six months to live." Shock, pain, anger, overwhleming sadness....all the feelings I had when my Dad was diagnosed so many years ago. My only response for a moment was, "Oh goodness...I am so sorry..." He was, in true Walter style, positive, upbeat and witty. He told me he had a drinks and lots of vitamins. He refused to give up the fight. I asked about his wife. He said, "She is putting up a good front." I asked about his two young sons. He said they hadn't been told yet. They were waiting to speak to psychologists to see how best to tell the children. I started to cry. He didn't know that I was crying, but I was.

We talked about my Dad and how the palliative care unit at the hospital was wonderful. Walter is being cared for through the same hospital as my Dad. We talked about how to best talk to the children. I told him I would give him the names of some good books for children that deal with death. We booked a bouncer for the end of September for his second son's birthday. We prommised to keep in touch and he promised to call me if he or his wife needed anything. I told him to stay strong and live his life to the fullest. He said he would.

We hung up the phone and I cried. I sobbed. I shook. I got angry.

Once I calmed down, I realized that this man could be my husband, my friend, my cousin, he could be ME. He is 43 years old. He could be anyone. Why? Why, why, why?

My heart is so heavy. I can't imagine what he and his wife are going through.

Please pray for Walter and his family.


**October 22, 2010**

I visited with Walter in mid-September, just he and I. I brought him gifts, I hugged him, I cried, he *almost* cried and we just talked. His mind was where it needed to be and his spirit was strong. I hugged him when I left and I told him I loved him lots. He told me he loved me too. It wasn't THAT kind of love. It was a genuine friendship love. I thought that was the last time I would see him.

In genuiine Walter fashion, he had other plans. We delivered a bouncer for his second son's birthday in September. Although Walter was the same Walla Walla Walter in spirit, he looked dreadful. I knew the end was near.

It's 11:48 pm...I just read Walter's blog, which was updated by his wife tonight. Walter passed away this morning.

Poor, sweet Walla, Walla, Walter...Rest in peace my friend.

My heart is broken for Bonnie and the boys. My mind is reeling. I feel so helpless...this is not the way things should be.

If you're the praying kind, please say a prayer for this family tonight...and tomorrow...and the next day. They need to feel love and strength right now. Pin It


Lisa said...

Will absolutely pray for this family! Seems to always happen to the best people. Not that i would wish that suffering on the worst people evn but certainly seems to happen to some of the best!!!!!

Kate said...

Such a loss. My heart goes out to his family, and to all his friends that loved him.

Kelli said...

What a beautiful tribute to Walter. :) How blessed you were to have known him; how blessed he was to have you as a friend. God bless Bonnie, their boys and everyone who knew and loved Walter. They'll all be in my thoughts and prayers.

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