In memoriam



While this is a business blog,  it is a blog about a family business, with all the joys and sorrows that come with living and working in the real world. And so I do not hesitate to use this forum to share the joys, like the birth of our grandson Sam, and the sorrows, which in this case is the death yesterday of the matriarch of my family Helen M. Normand, my mom, and the great grandmother of Sam. While she came from a large family, the eleventh child of twelve children, and was referred to as the 'sickly one,' she was actually a strong and stoic woman. She married her childhood sweetheart, Roger, when she was 18, and loved him until his death 62 years later. At eighty year of age she started a new life at the Loomis Retirement Community and was able, for the first time in her life really, to become her own person. She became active in the Knitting Club, was on the Food Committee of the community dining room, and was just beginning her involvement on the Scholarship Committee, which raised funds for the college kids who worked part-time in various capacities at Loomis. But beyond these activities, she was best known at Loomis as a person who cared about people, without pretense and without compulsion. She made a point of knowing everyone by name, whether that was an administrator, a housekeeper, a repairman, a waiter or waitress in the dining room, the cooks, the nurses, and especially the residents. That didn't mean she liked everybody; she was very certain in her assessments of people. But she was always respectful.

After her release from Hartford Hospital she returned to the Loomis Nursing Center, which is one wing in the Loomis Commuity Campus where she had had an apartment in the Independent Living wing. As far as we were concerned, she was returning 'home' and that, with rehabilitation from her stroke, she might eventually return to her apartment, or, worst case, to the Assisted Living wing. But it wasn't in the cards, as she, a gambler at heart, would have said. As word got out on campus that she was on her death bed, wave upon wave of Loomis residents, staff and administrators came to say their goodbyes. It chokes me up just writing this because we as a family were unprepared for the depth of care, love and sadness that her passing had evoked. Even Nick, a college-age waiter in the dining room, one of her favorites and a fellow, we learned that night, she had often conned into going out to buy lottery tickets for her, even Nick came and stood speechless by her bedside to pay respects. I know that if I were in Nick's shoes, I probably couldn't have done it.

The triumph was that she really had created a new life for herself, at 82 years old. There is a lesson for us all here. The tragedy is that she was denied it further in mid-stride. There is no telling what the years ahead would have brought her; it's a shame that she couldn't have had a few more. But I think she would have been rather pleased that she at least went out at the top of her game.

With Sam's birth and Mom's death we have experienced within a short seven days the most exhilarating high and the saddest low of the human emotional scale We are reminded that we all ride the great wheel of life, but that in the end ,the greatest truths lie only in this exact moment, in the simple, precious space between breathing in and breathing out. Make the most of your moment. Peace.

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Bakery Normand
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Northampton, MA 01060
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