Friday, October 14, 2011

Moving On

Well, I haven’t posted anything in a LONG time, and it’s about time I wrote SOMETHING. I had a long post and a half about my boss Cary Casey, but then decided it probably wasn’t wise to post something so personal on a public forum, even though nobody reads this anyway. SO … I’m moving on, from a big big BIG part of my life. In case you didn’t know, Cary was my boss; I was his Executive Assistant for 17 years. He died June 24 at 65 years old. He was diagnosed with cancer (spindle cell sarcoma) in March, so it was fast and so sad. It’s still hard to imagine someone so full of life, so energetic and so passionate about everything, suddenly just gone.

I had been organizing a video for him, filming employees sending him messages (nothing negative--like I'm so sad you're sick--was allowed) and I even organized a flash mob dance scene made up of a lot of employees.  I intended to bully just the Finance Department to participate, but in the end it was not even just us. The General Manager and all the Deputy GMs were out there boogying (so to speak) with the rest of us, including most of the department heads. It was 107 degrees that day and we did it outside.  I was amazed by the turnout, and it ended up being a lot of fun, even though I had to be out front (that was the only bad part). A couple simple dance steps is all we used, and we danced it to “Can’t Help Myself” which happened to be the song that played on one of the little toys Cary had in his office. He used to say that he would push the button to make it play every time he felt he needed to hear that somebody loved him. (Yes, you do know the song. It’s by the Four Tops and starts, “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch. You know that I love you! Can’t help myself …”) It was funny. I got a lot of calls about it the day after we filmed that part. Half of the calls were people telling me how much fun it was. The other half of the calls was people who were mad that I hadn’t invited them to join us. And so it goes.

Sadly, Cary didn’t live long enough to see the video. It was all filmed and being edited when he died. But I believe that he has seen it now and appreciates my efforts. I know his family, his two children and his “widowed bride” (he married his long-time girlfriend just hours before he died) appreciated it. His children, a son Connor and a daughter Evan, are only 28 and 25 years old, so it was early to lose their dad. And I know how much he adored those kids. I’m also rather fond of them; they grew up with me, too! One thing will always stay with me. Cary had a bit of trouble with Connor when he was a teenager, so Cary was thrilled when Connor decided to join the marines right after graduating high school. Connor was at boot camp when 9/11/01 happened, so that kind of dampened Cary’s enthusiasm for his son being a marine! Connor was actually in the first tank regiment to cross into Iraq. We spent many days with Cary’s office TV tuned to Fox News as we watched continuous coverage of the war. We were afraid to watch and afraid NOT to watch! But Connor came back, safe and sound, and a man we could be even more proud of. Connor got married on the end of April, and Cary was able to be there. It’s the last time most people saw him alive. I saw him once more when I visited him at the hospital. Cary’s daughter, Evan, graduated Summa Cum Laude from UNLV over a year ago. Cary was very proud of her, too. But anyway, I know that Connor watched the video a lot, because at the funeral he made comments about it to some of the newer employees that he had never really met before. So it makes me happy that, even though Cary didn’t get to see the film while alive, it provides comfort for his family.

Anyway, I’ll say only a few things about Cary. The first is what I said to him on the video. The video opens with me sitting in HIS chair with my feet up on HIS desk, calmly filing my nails. I look up as if someone has just come in and I quickly put my feet down. I say, “Cary! I didn’t know you were here! Sorry about that! Oh, just wanted you to know that I never did that when you were still here.” Then I paused and said, “You know, Cary, we’ve been through a lot in the 17 years we have worked together. There are lot of memories, good times and bad times. There were times we sat in this room and yelled at each other! The times you yelled and I cried, the times I yelled and you cried – wait, THAT never happened! Anyway, there is one thing I have to say. It was never boring! Love ya! Bye bye.”

That was my contribution. We did have a lot of ups and downs, and a lot of it was very hard on me. I’ll post a few of his pictures. As you will see, he could be so crazy, he could be so fun, but he could also be very mean. But I survived. I have to tell one thing that proves to me that he did care about me. I can’t tell everyone the circumstances, but there was a day almost ten years ago that I got some very bad news. I had been house-sitting for my friend Julie, who was gone to Ohio for her grandfather’s funeral. I got the bad news before I left for work that day. When I got to the office, I told Cary what was going on. I also had a terrible migraine and I asked him if I could just go home for the day. He was shocked at my news and said yes, I could go. I gathered my things and walked to my car in the parking lot.

Right when I started up my car to leave the lot, my cell phone rang. It was Julie. In the few minutes it had taken me to walk to the car, Cary had rushed around the office, trying to find someone who had Julie’s cell phone number. He wanted to get hold of her right away because he knew I needed a friend. And he got her number, called her, and she called me within that short time frame. I was shocked, still am, at what he did. So he did care about me in some way.

In fact, something happened last week that I have to mention and then I won’t talk about Cary again (much). I was in my kitchen, mixing up my morning protein drink, and in my imaginings I heard Cary saying to me, “You sure have this new guy fooled, don’t you?” (He was referring to Bill, my new boss, who really likes and appreciates me.) Don’t take Cary’s statement wrong, it was exactly the kind of thing that Cary would say to me, in a fond, joking manner (as fond as he ever was). I agreed with him that yes, I do! Then I imagined that Cary said to me that he was sorry for all the things that happened. I told him, “I forgive you.” And I do. So that’s all the detail I’m going to go into about life with my boss. He has said he is sorry and I have forgiven him. The end.

And now for the pictures.

This one was taken at our first Employee Appreciation Day, a Hawaiian theme. My boss, the CFO, twirling a baton that's on fire. He did singe a few of his leg hairs when he passed it under his leg. Originally he was going to wear something shorter, but I said no no no ... I could see his underpants! (Not that he cared.)

My boss, dressed up as King Tut and lip-synching that old Steve Martin song. I think the theme that year was 70s.  And he mooned the General Manager (wearing his flesh-colored underpants) just before the dance started.  Proof that he didn't care about such things!

Dressed up as Carmen Miranda hanging onto the back of a decorated golf cart.  The theme that year was Mardi Gras.  I had to do his makeup!  That was weird.  Also, during the second lap around the building, his bikini top rode up and exposed his chest.  I was so horrified!  Couldn't he feel the breeze?!

I had a big halloween-themed party for his 60th birthday.  Here he is among his decorations. The skulls and bats hanging from the ceiling each had a signed message from someone from work.  He left all the decorations up almost until Thanksgiving (his birthday was October 17).


I took this picture of him for publication in the Bond Buyer and  it also ended up in a couple other Finance publicatons.

The enormous cabin he built with his own hands.  He lost a finger building it!

His last official portrait.  Sure glad I made him go to that appointment.
His family used it in the newspaper, funeral program, etc.