I think I'm at a point in my life when relationship breakups and deaths are more common than weddings and births.
Whilst mentoring some of the TAFE SA Financial Services staff last Monday, I found out that one of our Colleague's husband had passed away on the previous Friday. This shouldn't have been too much of a shock, since the husband has been fight lymphatic cancer for a long time - however the reality of actually hearing that he'd passed away was still a surprise.
It was important for me to attend the funeral. I have known this Colleague since starting at TAFE SA in 2001. She was the lady who actually picked my resume out of a bundle - and thought I remindered her of herself - ex-High School Teacher, traveller, etc. She 'took me under her wing' and mentored me into the 'TAFE way' of doing things. She always had time to help me and always showed me the unmost of respect and encouragement. And, she often would tell people that she 'employed' me and I'd reply with - "yes - you were the one who 'let me loose' in TAFE", which we both would laugh about.
I hadn't see her much recently since moving out of TAFE SA Business Services into roles with the Australian Flexible Learning Framework and TAFE SA Teaching & Learning, however, I needed to show my support to her by going to the funeral.
As funerals go - this was a 'beautiful' funeral - a heart warming eulogy of this man's life - highlighting how his show of positive strength throughout his illness allowed him to live 14 years from first being diagnosed. My friend and her 2 adult children also showed strength throughout the service.
And it was a 'reality check' of our mortality - he was only 57 years old.
There was a beautiful 'wake' held in the gardens of the Church following the funeral and there were a few other Colleagues present who I hadn't seen for a while - funny how funerals can do that - bring people together . The other funny thing was, that I would be seeing some of these Colleagues the next morning - as I was running a Moodle workshop for the TAFE SA Financial Services Quality Assurance Group (QAG).
So driving home in the car I got to thinking: how could I help the Colleagues feel 'inspired' at this Moodle workshop when they were probably feeling just like me - flat, exhausted and wondering why? life's too short anyway....
These thoughts continued through the evening and I tweeted "wondering how to inspire colleagues at workshop tomorrow after attending a funeral with them today" and the wonderful Diane Cordell shared her wisdom - she tweeted: "include something about connections to enrich life and provide human contact and comfort" - and these few words opened up my 'ideas' door.
Of course - make a connection between what we were doing and the people involved in the workshop and who attended the funeral and the poor Colleague who had lost her husband.
So at the start of the workshop on Friday I:
- described how we think of a QAG as the 'official' quality assurance of TAFE SA Financial Services, and how it was important for 'auditing' purposes, but also how the Group acted as a Community of Practice, providing support, encouragement, strength, inspiration, friendship and comradery.
- then I asked the participants to tell at least one other person in the room 1 positive thing they have gotten from being a part of the QAG -and then we shared these as a whole group - in true 'Marie Jasinski' style - there were lollies for everyone who shared.
- and then I tied all of this together by saying: "There's a Colleague who couldn't be with us today, who also has given us all support, encouragement, strength, inspiration, friendship and comradery - and she now needs all of us to do likewise for her - pls - give her a call, send her a message or card or simply say a pray or have a thought for her - she needs you to give her support, encouragement, strength, inspiration, friendship and comradery over the next couple of months.
I also realised on the way in in the car to this workshop that it was this same Colleague who also encouraged me to my first QAG meeting in 2001 - and the funny thing was - there were still some members of this group who were at my first QAG meeting at the workshop on Friday ;).
Connect. Enrich life. And provide comfort.