Sunday, June 06, 2010


I'm not sure what kind of steriods 2010 is on but it seems to be attempting to crush the last few years. The amount of major life events in the space of five months is making me dizzy. Just the last three weeks I had a sister wedding, new babies for my brother and several dear friends, some difficult health news in the family, said goodbye to a favorite coworker and friend, and got the sad news that one of my key volunteers passed away last weekend in a biking accident. To say it's been an emotionally charged few weeks is something of an understatement. I've been in some kind of heightened state pretty much all the time and it's ranged from being so blissfully happy to some kind of heartbroken.

My experience with death is extremely limited. My paternal grandparents both died a long time ago and although I certainly loved them, they were old and tired. I've never lost someone I knew well. Ron was a retired guy here in the Springs who really loved the Olympics and did a ton of volunteer work for us. He spent hours and hours with us in the warehouse counting apparel and getting things ready and we liked him so much, we ended up taking him with us to Vancouver. He was a rock star for the three weeks he spent with us and became a favorite among the other volunteers, the hotel staff, and even the athletes. He was 67 years old but was still running and biking nearly every day. I saw Ron in spandex probably more than I really wanted to those weeks. I had actually met with him just two days before his accident to talk about projects coming up that I wanted him to help with.

A few of us from work went to his funeral. It was at a beautiful garden that usually hosts weddings but was a pretty perfect place for a guy who spent most of his retirement outside. He had been the Dean of Students at UCCS here in town and was active with lots of volunteer groups and running/biking clubs so the place was packed.

It was a really nice service. He had lived a rich life and people all had such wonderful things to say about him. But one thing that kept hitting me was that no one talked about his career accomplishments. He certainly had them, but that wasn't what anyone focused on. People talked about his sense of adventure, his love for his family, what a good friend he was, how honest and kind and full of integrity he was. His kids talked about having had a very present and supportive father. I do know that funerals are obviously a time to say nice things about the person but it was so clear that this man had been a good good person and it wasn't hard for those who loved him to gush.

I have been thinking so much since the service about the things that have or haven't been important to me in the last few years. I have to confess that I do take a lot of pride in my career accomplishments. And sometimes I get my identity a little wrapped up in what I do for a living. When I was feeling so out of my element in Boston, it affected the way I saw myself far more than it probably should have. But now that I have that aspect back in balance, and I'm feeling happier at work than I have in years and years, I'm anxious to concentrate more on what kind of person I want to be. Which means working harder to be patient, to be generous, to forgive and forget faster, to worry less, to apologize more sincerely, to be brave, to be teachable.

My Mission President gave me all kinds of great advice that I still think about ten years later but one thing he said that I truly believe is that people end up getting the thing they really want. I'm trying to make sure that what I really, really want is just to be good. I have this feeling that if that is the guiding principle of my life, I can't go too far wrong.

I've thought about Ron on every run and bike ride I've been on since the accident-I feel some sort of responsibility to take advantage of the beautiful place he loved so much and to take care of the strong, healthy body I have. Ron delighted in teasing me about my dating life. I like to think that now he's somewhere bugging my guardian angels to find someone for me.

We'll miss you Ron Wisner.


Cristin said...

I think of that same advice from President Allen very often. I remember him saying that we will choose exactly what happens to us in the end, we never lose our free agency... this was a good post.

Sara S said...

It was so great to run into you at the temple... after reading your post (yes, I do follow your blog!)I just wanted to let you know that you are someone that I have always admired!! You are one of the nicest, sincerest, intelligent and insightful person I've ever met and you are super darling to boot! Seriously... you are going to make some lucky guy very happy one day!