The name Emma conjures up the spirit of Jane Austen’s incorrigible heroine in the novel of the same name. The great Austen purportedly stated that she was creating a character "whom no one but myself will much like."
The Emma that we write about in this episode – - our Emma - - was just the opposite. You just could not help but love Emma. Emma was an administrative assistant at our workplace. What a dry set of words for such an amazing woman!
Emma was one of the very first persons you would meet the day you started work here. Every new employee got the word right away to go and see Emma. She would get you on the right track with everything from parking to where to hang your coat. From that first day - – for each of us - – Emma became a mentor and friend. She truly was a woman to be admired , although she would be totally embarrassed by that statement.
Over the years we knew her, Emma was dealing with many health problems. Her body was not strong, but her spirit was radiant. She was such a selfless person that it was easy for us to forget about her hardships and health issues ... how she had to make regular trips for dialysis and sit with an IV at her desk. Even though she must have felt sick much of the time, she refused to give in to it. Emma would put all the bad things into her life box labeled "aggravation, " rather than the one labeled "most important." She was so busy with life, she could not be bothered with things outside of her control. She took care of what she could, and the rest just went into that "aggravation" box.
One thing she believed she could take care of was making every person who crossed her path believe that they were the highlight of her day. What a wonderful gift she had for making you feel special just for walking by her desk! She asked about your family members or your cats. She brought apples from the mountains to share. She liked fairies, and she loved the occasional margarita. When she wanted to make a point, she could throw those eyebrows to the very top of her head, open those eyes as big as saucers and make a statement that could bring you to your knees with laughter.
She shopped all year to get just the right Christmas gifts for everyone around her. She wrapped each and every one of them and struggled for days to get those gifts to the office in dozens of shopping bags. Some years we would have to make two trips to the parking lot to get them home.
Emma died over the Christmas holiday several years ago. With all the gifts she gave even in her last days, she did not realize that she was the most precious gift of all. Much of her lives within us today, and we continue to get strength from the Emma that is still in our hearts. We laugh together at her funny stories, and we remember the example she set of living life to its fullest every day.
Emma took us both under her wings, and she left her imprint on our souls. Perhaps we may also have a positive affect on some of the young women we know. If we try very hard, perhaps we can make the kind of difference for them that Emma made in our lives.
We loved you, Emma. We still do.