I have started to write several times this week, but each time, what I have written just didn’t seem “quite right”. Then last night, as I was nodding off to sleep, I knew what I would write.
Sunday night, we lost an important part of our family, my brother, Bob's wife, Melanie. As my brother so aptly shared with one of my siblings, “Melanie’s heart was so big that she gave, and gave, and gave some more, to so many people. As CEO of Columbia Bank based out of Tacoma, WA, she gave locally, regionally, around the Northwest, the nation and around the world. Her heart unexpectedly stopped.
While Melanie’s heart may have given way, she is remembered deeply in many of our hearts. I pondered ‘why’ and ‘how’ Melanie’s life and example had impacted my life so deeply, especially since our connection was rarely ‘in person’ but more in letters, phone calls or emails. On my rare trips "Outside" (I live in Alaska) our schedules never seemed to mesh.
Melanie’s life was one that had been sown deeply, with roots that were firm. Her roots of faith, of family, of giving, of honesty, going the extra mile, being a pioneering business woman in a ‘man’s world’, using humor, being ‘real’ and establishing relationships with all she encountered bore much fruit. I remember her advising me: "Remember: the bank/work is not ‘me’, rather it is the PEOPLE who make the bank/work: from the janitor, to the staff, to the executives". It is a lesson I have tried to model in my own life over the years, in my line of work. I work hard to put people, relationship, faith, family and respect first.
Melanie’s faith help keep her grounded and rooted. She knew she was not the Master Gardner, but rather one of the ‘branches’ on the vine. Melanie knew that branches need to be pruned, challenged, stretched, so it could grow stronger and bear much more fruit. That was evident in the way Columbia Bank grew over the years and the network and relationships she had. Melanie knew the Master Gardner had chosen her, had groomed and gifted her; she knew what her assignment in life was. Melanie knew her priorities of faith, family, friends and work, as well as her boundaries. Faith and family were always first. She was the Master Gardner’s friend. As a friend, she knew the fruit she would bear would last…..forever: in each life she touched.
I can only hope to be as deeply grounded, rooted and remain, like Melanie, to be called a friend to all, (especially of the Master Gardner!) and to be faithful in my life assignment, with faith and family first.
Care Tuk is a nationally known speaker, educator, and retreat/workshop leader. She has been a school, hospital, and home health occupational therapist for more than 30 years. She has been named as a Top Business Woman in America and recognized for her work with youth, disability outreach and awareness, and the American Cancer Society.