feren: Feren smoking (atomicfiction_ferensmoking)
John Tomich passed away today.

John was a coworker and friend at $EMPLOYER who helped keep me and the other members of our clique in good spirits. John was an inspiration to practice my photography and hone my skills. John had outstanding technical knowledge that made him an asset to the organization, but his "people skills" were what set him apart. John's musical ability gave us "Raining Meat," which was the title he gave his one-person band as he wrote, performed and recorded songs for us to use for laughter and stress relief.

The last time I wrote about John was this entry of April 2007.

After that we sort of lost touch. We'd email occasionally, or post to one another on Facebook, but that was about it. Lots of talk about getting the old crew back together to hang out never moved beyond talk. Now the opportunity is lost forever.

I don't know the details of what happened, or how he got so sick and passed so quickly. There's so much information missing. Maybe I'll find out more. I don't know if it matters.

The obituary has been posted.
feren: Feren smoking (atomicfiction_ferensmoking)
Today was the funeral service for Claret, the colleague on my team who passed away on Monday night after a long and difficult battle with cancer.

Aside from myself and [personal profile] lady_curmudgeon, I saw that many people who knew him from our time working together had elected to attend the service. I counted six others in attendance, and there may have been more. Beyond those who had the privilege and pleasure of working with Claret, though, were many, many more friends and family. I met Claret's widow, who was very courageous in the face of such a terrible loss. I met Claret's brother, who looks so much like him I was momentarily taken aback. I also met Claret's father, who looked very sorrowful to have outlived one of his sons... but I can see exactly where Claret and his brother got their features from!

The service was at a Catholic church, one that was simply appointed but very lovely because of that modesty. I can see why it appealed to Claret, as he was always soft spoken and was the type of person who focused on substance instead of on style. I liked the priest's style, and overall it seemed like exactly the sort of memorial that Claret would have preferred. I imagine in the closing weeks of his life, as news from his oncologist went from bad to worse, planning the memorial was one of the burdens that he shared with his wife and extended family.

After service, Claret's cremains were taken for inurnment at the cemetery. I spent some time in the church parking lot, to let the family and close friends do what they must to say good bye (I later learned that one of those things was to release a number of white balloons, so that his eldest son might watch them ascend towards Heaven to be with his daddy). It was a short drive from the church to Claret's home, where Curmudgeon and I waited only a while longer for everyone to return from the cemetery. To pass time we chatted with the folks who were watching the house... family friends, the woman who is a summer school teacher for Claret's eldest son, and a few others.

It wasn't long before everyone arrived. Food was served to everyone who gathered at the house; a very nice buffet-style of delicious Indian fare including naan, chicken marsala, saffron rice, curry, spring rolls and more. Everyone ate their fill and there was still plenty left over, which I think may be good as so many members of both sides of Claret's family had come to see him and care for the kids and his widow after his passing.

All of my time was spent on the porch overlooking the back yard. Despite the higher temperatures and increased humidity, the shade from the many trees and the tents that were put up made it a very pleasant place to be. The landscaping was lovely, the breeze refreshing and as people arrived the conversation was good. I heard many different stories about Claret, from when he decided to go skydiving to how he ran a marathon (I'd never known about either) and much more. To my ongoing surprise, I received thanks from many friends and family members for my support while he fought for his health and life. Several times I was told he spoke often and highly of me, something that also caught me by surprise. No, I didn't believe he thought poorly of me, I just ... never thought of how much work might mean to him while he was at home, lost in a seemingly never-ending sea of treatments. His widow believes, as do others, that by enabling him to work remotely and keeping him involved with the daily activities of the team I helped give him purpose and direction, staving off depression that so often accompanies this sort of thing. I also learned that the day I announced his promotion is the day that he received news his remission had halted and that the cancer had returned with an entirely new vigor.

At one point in the afternoon, a relative of Claret's asked to take a photo of me seated beside Claret's father. I obliged, even if it was something that completely took me by surprise.

In the end, after almost 3 hours of conversation and delicious food, it was time for us to go. Most of the other guests had paid their respects and left, and it was clear that the family was looking for some time to themselves. I thanked everyone again, and then spent a few minutes talking to Claret's wife. While I had given a donation to the family in the card I provided, the one that I'd carried from the office had no such cash within it. None of us could think of a good way to help ease a financial or logical burden the family was faced with. Groceries? Landscaping? Something else? What would make their lives easier and help them face the new challenges ahead? Claret's wife didn't know at that particular moment, and I didn't wish to put her any further on the spot... so in lieu of that I gave her assurance that, once all of the extended family currently supporting her had left, she could always reach me and the office would gather a collection in memorial and provide it to her however she might need it.

The drive home felt a magnitude longer than the drive up had been. When I got home I helped with a few chores, then fell into bed and took a nap for almost an hour. After the nap was over I got up and went to the animal shelter building to finish some tasks left over from last night's transfer of Odessa, but that is an entry for a different time.

Tonight I'm going to think about Claret, his family and all the lives he touched both within the office and outside of the confines of a building's walls. I'm going to think fondly of a man who was soft spoken, confident, knowledgeable and loving. For a while I will reflect on the respect I have for a man who had faith, creativity and a streak of daring within his heart that would occasionally surprise even those who had raised him... and how I perhaps helped make life better for him and his family in some of the darkest hours they had known.
feren: Feren smoking (atomicfiction_ferensmoking)
Today was a first of its kind for me, and it is a first that I really could have done without experiencing this early in my career. Today I had the sad duty to clear the desk of one of my team members, going through it and emptying it of any personal effects. The desk belonged to somebody who passed away this Monday night, succumbing after a long and courageous battle against cancer.

I've had to empty out desks for a number of employees who left my team for bigger and better things; those were simply disheartening. This was far beyond disheartening, this was heart-breaking.

I've seen cancer take too many people in my time at $EMPLOYER. Bogie, Tina, Rick... and now another.

This has been a very trying, tiring week.
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-angst)
I got back home at 11:40 tonight after a relatively uneventful flight out of HOU to MDW, with a layover in STL. I will be here at Z'ha'dum tomorrow just long enough to get ahold of work and explain why I won't be in, do a load of laundry, mow the lawn and try to beg the state of Illinois for an extension on my overdue-for-emissions-testing-and-thus-is-currently-running-on-expired-tags Expedition. I've resigned myself to the outrageous fine from the village due to the still-unrepaired condition of my siding.

For Bonus Fun Points I was having problems with the DSL line before I left. Upon my return the situation has gotten no better and troubleshooting this evening suggests that this goddamn POS BroadXent DSL modem has once again shit itself, so I'll have to deal with that as well when I get back. Insult to injury is fun, really. Can I please have a DSL modem that doesn't fuck up and eat its own head every six months? Please?

Shit, I need to refill Ra's prescription for Prednisolone or he's going to run out while I'm away. That makes item number 12 on today's glitch list.
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blue-contemplative)
I got off the phone with my father about an hour and a half ago, shortly before I arrived home from the commute. He's green-lit the trip to Texas and also clarified on why my mother pushed back the way she did about my travelling. Once I was home I called my uncle's house and, receiving no answer, called the cell phone of my other uncle. I felt bad calling him since I knew he had just arrived in Texas with his wife this afternoon (after a 25-hour straight drive splitting shifts all the way from Northern MN). I was quickly passed to my now-widowed uncle and cleared my visit with him. I hung up with a plan of action in mind but was partially balked as it seems absolutely none of the airlines offer discounts for passengers traveling for a funeral service. What the fuck is up with that? Are their margins really that thin that they can't shave $60 off a $600+ dollar round-trip ticket? This will dent my pocketbook plenty -- $609 for the airplane tickets alone and another $100+ for the rental car, but I have to do this. Still, it doesn't change the fact that I feel like I'm taking a complete ass-beating on the price.

Price gripes aside, as of this very moment I have my plane tickets booked and my car reserved. I leave on Thursday and I'll be back on Saturday. Work is just going to have to cope with my taking emergency bereavement leave.

[livejournal.com profile] mephit -- I know you offered crash space while I was in the state and I really appreciate your generosity. Given that my uncle lives 2 hours outside of Houston I'll just stay at his house and lend whatever hand I can during my all-too-brief stay.

[Addendum at 2108: USB 2.0 can suck a bucket of ass. FireWire 400 (aka "First generation Firewire", not to be confused with FireWire 800 aka "Second Gen Firewire") is about five orders of magnitude faster than this shitheap of a protocol. It's taking forever to copy my entire MP3 collection onto the iPod in preparation for my flight, all because Apple completely abandoned FireWire on the video (5G) iPod because their user market is expanding so strongly in the PC arena and all the Windows mouth-breathers were confused by the shining beacon of hope that was IEEE-1394.
feren: I AM THE MAN (pantherhead)
Nobody should be in a supermarket when they find out their aunt has passed of cancer that went undiagnosed until two days previous -- this especially should not happen to a cancer survivor.

More frustrating yet is my family is actively discouraging my use of leave from work to fly to Texas for the service.

It's such a fine line

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