When you reflect on your life, you often realize that there are pivotal days that change everything that comes after that day. Something happened with one of my clients that forever left an imprint on my heart. At this time of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share that experience with you.
I first met Tony over 10 years ago. He was a great guy. We met when he was laid off from his job of many years. Tony was pretty overwhelmed by this event, as he had no idea what to do next. We worked together to build a job search strategy and get him on the path toward his next job. He was incredibly diligent about the process and worked really hard to make it happen.
During that time, he needed a break and he took some time out to visit his daughter in San Francisco. Before he left, I told him to say hello to the sea lions for me, as I had fond memories of visiting San Francisco years before. Tony had a great time on his trip. He came to my office and presented me with the most thoughtful gift – a glass sea lion of a mother and a baby on a rock. I was really touched and it held a place of honor on my desk.
After his break, Tony came back and began his job search in earnest. Not surprisingly, he was successful in landing a great role. It took him out of state, but he was thrilled with it. Tony moved and we stayed in touch through the years he was in this role. When he was laid off again, he called and I helped him through.
Fast forward several more years. It was a day that I was tired and harried. I had a lot to do that day and was on my way to teach a class. The phone rang right before I left. I reluctantly answered that call, worried I was going to be late to class. The person on the phone identified herself as Tony’s wife. She asked him if I remembered him. I said, "of course I do – I love Tony!” I asked how he was doing. She said that she was sorry to tell me that Tony has passed away. He had cancer. I didn’t know. She said that the reason for her call was that Tony knew he was not going to make it. In his final days, he put together a list of people, who over the years, had made the biggest difference in his life. She told me that I was on that list. I was so touched so humbled and so sad.
I will never forget that day or that call. What it taught me is that I am fortunate enough to do work that impacts people’s lives. They trust me during some of their hardest days. Yes, I can have a tiring day, but that doesn’t matter. I need to be at my best with each of my clients. I keep Tony’s sea lion on my desk as a reminder to be present with each and every client.
I heard a great speech one time ---
"We are like a boat that leaves behind a wake. Every time we interact with another person we can choose what type of wake we leave behind.
Tony helped me remember what kind of wake I want to leave behind in the lives of the people I am lucky enough to work with. I will be forever thankful to him for that.
At this time of Thanksgiving, I wanted to express to those of you that I have worked with over the years, I am thankful for you as well. You have all, in your own way, left footprints on my heart too. May you have a wonderful holiday season with the ones you love. Happy Thanksgiving.