Daily Paradox - Written by John Bittleston on Sunday, April 15, 2012 21:24 - 3 Comments
Caring, not managing
Thirty years ago I learnt that caring is better than managing, and much more effective. The Production Director of my Australian business did not report directly to me but was a friend. He and his wife had emigrated from UK; then Wyn got cancer which metastasized. She was going to die.
It was autumn and I arranged to take Terry and Wyn to Sunday lunch by the Hawkesbury River. It was a beautiful sunny day. Wyn chatted and ate a good lunch considering she was so ill. Then she took my arm and my girlfriend took Terry’s and we walked along the pontoon moorings. It was quiet, the buzzy motor boats silenced during the Australians’ postprandial rest.
Wyn talked softly of the life she had enjoyed without a trace of self-pity but with no false ideas that she might live for much longer. She spoke of others’ kindness, of the world’s beauty and all it had taught her, of the sorrow of parting but her hope that her family would lead full and fulfilled lives.
All was still as the sun began to set and I remember thinking how quiet the wildfowl were. There was an almost reverent calm, a moment more truly holy than any I can remember before or since. As we said goodbye I told my friend that we would never see Wyn again. She died within thirty-six hours.
Death is a shock however expected. I went to the funeral, wrote the usual sort of letter to Terry, mourned as we do when someone special dies. And then I thought ‘that is not enough. Wyn deserves more for her grieving family than the banalities of death’.
I wrote Terry a poem. His response was touching. “It will stay on my dressing table, John,” he said, “and perhaps one day I shall be able to read it without crying. Thank you.”
God bless you, Wyn, with you our prayers are sped
to him who lifts you with his gentle hands
The dead are living and the living, dead
until we meet again in far-off lands.
For now you’ve left us and our aching hearts
find only anger, sometimes close despair.
Yet when the balm of time and memory starts,
we’ll know though silent you are always there.
And what you did was show to us a way
to halt Disaster on her barren road
and make Young Triumph victor of the day.
Courage and love bear much of any load.
The challenge you have left us we accept;
we brace ourselves new victories to win;
yet at the same time, as you might expect,
we’ll pray and shed a tear for our friend Wyn.
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