Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In Rememberance

I usually write about Cowboy and I but today I think I'll depart from that just a little. This is the story of Gwen.

I got a call last week from Paul, an employee of mine, who said he was calling to tell me how much he appreciated my support and all that I had done for all of them two years ago. He said he respected the way I handled that time and how grateful he was to work with me.

Two years ago at this time...Gwen.

Gwen was a 64 year woman that had worked for our company since she was 17. She worked in the food service department and in one capacity or another and through mergers and buyouts she stayed with the same company, although it had multiple names. When I went to work for our company, Gwen was the Food Service Manager. She was a wonderful woman. Very kind and loving. The client's called her "Grandma" and her staff thought of her as their "mother". There are really no words to express what a kind, gentle soul she was.

I became her 'supervisor' in March '07. I wouldn't really categorize myself as her supervisor since she was so much wiser and more experienced than I was. She was fantastic to work with. When I would ask her for something, she was johnny on the spot and make it 10x more or 10x better than what I requested. She was truly amazing.

We were in the process on moving our business and Gwen was a big part of that process. We were scheduled to meet at 9a to go visit our new location and look over her new kitchen. I arrived at work and waited for her. She wasn't there. Very unusual since Gwen was always at work. Even when she was ill, she was at work. And when she wasn't at work, she was calling work to check on work.

I called down to the kitchen and no Gwen so I left to go visit the site. Work tried to call me several times in the hour I was gone. When I got back to work, Gwen's staff came to my office to see if Gwen was with me. They knew something was wrong. What I didn't know until then was that Gwen would call before she came to work to let them know she was on her way and then around 10a her son would call to make sure she made it to work.

Her staff mobilized, one started calling, one went to her house and one called the police. Over the next hour it was a process of them convincing the police that something was wrong and they needed to enter the house. They knew her and knew her patterns-years and years of patterns of the same behavior. Their alarm bells made mine go off. I spoke with the police and told them -as if I had any authority- to enter her house. The police got a ladder truck their and entered through a second story window.

My next call was from a staff member at Gwen's house, Gwen was brutally murdered in her home. It was devastating news. I don't remember a lot from the rest of the week. The news crews were there every day. I had to call the family--never a call someone wants to make. I had a staff reeling from the news to deal with, It was awful. Gwen was such a loss.

The really sad thing was she was murdered by her only son when she refused to give him the keys to the truck so he could get more drugs. Gwen had spent the last 14 years feeding clients trying to recover from addiction and she lost her life to addiction by her son's hands.

When Paul called, he was thinking me for the support during that time. Really, he and the staff were the strong ones, the courageous ones and the ones that loved her so much that they mobilized the effort to find her.

I've thought of Gwen a lot over the past several days and find comfort in knowing that she is resting in Heaven. (Knowing Gwen, she is probably running that kitchen).

God Bless, Gwen.


Lynilu said...

Oh, wow. Those stories are so touching and difficult. We had a man like that where I used to work. His death was less violent, but no less tragic to the whole organization. Thank God for those wonderful people that are the glue of the company.

Yes, God bless Gwen.

Caroline said...

What a touching story. Thanks for sharing a story that I know is really difficult to share. I can only imagine how hard that time was for you.