Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Yellow (11/12/09)
TITLE: Sally "Sunshine"
By Patricia Protzman
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The first time I saw Sally she was sitting at her desk laughing at a picture of her six-year-old granddaughter Emily, who had blueberry pie all over her face, mouth, and teeth. Sally found humor in nearly everything; telling hilarious jokes, making funny remarks about situations, and keeping a sunny disposition most of the time. She had a contagious laugh which could be heard all over our large office; a ray of sunshine in what was usually a serious workplace. My nick-name for Sally was “Sunshine”, I later found out she had some clouds in her life.
Sally and I worked together in a clinical research facility at a large university in eastern Maryland. One of our first tasks for a new project included training the study doctors and nurses. We made up manuals and other teaching aids and flew to Phoenix, Arizona to meet with 300 participants. When the meeting began, we learned the teaching manuals had not arrived ahead of us, they were on their way, but would not arrive in time for the first half of the first day of training; we scratched our heads as to what to do. Sally suggested using a chalkboard for the presentations, which was what we did.
Our medical director lectured while Sally wrote notes on the board. This arrangement started out well, but soon Sally had the whole conference center laughing at her funny diagrams and remarks. I thought our “serious” medical director was going to become irate, but he joined in by making funny comments, too. Our training manuals arrived during the two hour lunch break, the meeting was back to being serious. People later commented on how much fun they had in the morning session with Sally and her chalkboard.
On one of our return trips home from a meeting in San Diego, California to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Sally and I decided to take a red eye flight back home. We reasoned if we slept on the plane all night, we would have Saturday and Sunday to enjoy our weekend off. It didn’t work out that way. All night long, turbulence shook the plane. Every time we closed our eyes, the entire plane began shaking. Adding insult to injury, when we arrived at Pittsburgh International Airport, our shuttle plane to eastern Maryland was delayed by three hours. As usual, Sally found humor in the situation.
I used to wonder why she seemed so happy. If anyone had a reason to be choleric, it was Sally. She had lost her parents as a young child, survived polio, and was raised by an angry, bitter, paternal grandmother. Malignant melanoma attacked her in her twenties, thirties, and fifties. Sally told me Jesus appeared in her hospital room during her first illness, told her she would be healed, and she was.
During the time I worked with Sally she struggled with breast cancer and malignant melanoma. Her younger daughter, Jan, was struck with breast cancer shortly after Sally’s bout. She wasn’t joking during this time, but terribly worried about her daughter. We prayed together often. Later, she told me the Lord had healed them both. Sally’s son, Ron, a diabetic would not adhere to his diet and insulin regimen and caused his mother many hours of worry.
I worked with Sally five years; we left our jobs at the same time, I moved to another state for a short time, she left because she was experiencing health problems again. In 1998, I moved back to Virginia and began working for another clinical research organization.
I saw Sally three years later; she had just lost her husband to a car accident and was still struggling with health issues. One year later she died of ovarian cancer. Sally always said cancer would probably be the cause of her death, but she didn’t worry because “I will be with Jesus.” She often quoted the following Bible verse, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21 NIV)
Seven years have passed since Sally died. Her son Ron died a few years ago; I’m glad she wasn’t here to go through that ordeal, she suffered enough. I miss her smiling face, her jokes, and sunny disposition. My world is sadder because she is not here, but brighter because of the love, joy and humor she brought into my life. Sunshine, I love and miss you my friend, we will meet again in heaven.
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