Saturday, June 25, 2011

My UnMemorial For Manuela

Today, Manuela's funeral will be held.

I will not be there.

I am away. Wishing I was there. Knowing that, even as I tried to get back, she would have me stay, she would have me do what I came here to do. Manuela was remarkably unsentimental about things that needed to be done. You did them. You did them well. You didn't moan about it. I fail on a couple of those counts fairly regularly. She seldom did.

This is not going to be a tribute blog. I plan on writing something, nearer the time of Vita's memorial service - where I will have the honour to speak of her life and work. Then, as that day nears, I plan on taking some quiet time of reflection and write about the woman who became much more than my boss, she became both my mentor and my friend.

Yesterday, Joe and I went to the museum here in Kelowna, I rolled around alone looking at the exhibits. I had an odd feeling. Like I'd spent the last several days, walking around the museum of memories I have with Manuela. Fragments of images flash on the screen of my mind. Images of her living largely. Laughing loudly. Raging injustices. Thoughtfully pondering. Eagerly questioning. Maybe it was the Italian heritage, but living with emotion, living with passion, was the way she spent her days. It could be exhausting.

We travelled well together. All three of us talk. Well, Joe is a little quieter. But we'd drive the drive from Toronto to New York City and back without a quiet moment. On those drives we'd dream big dreams, plot out big plans. She was a someone who did things, big things. She made things happen, not magically willing the world to change, but actually working to make a difference.

These memories, in my little museum in my mind, are not dusty. They still have the fresh scent of recency on them. I will them not to diminish with time. I will them not to grow dusty.

Ruby wrote the card that Mike and family sent with their flowers. It said: 'My name is Ruby, I am nearly five years old. I liked it when I came to your place and you showed me how to catch frogs. You told me that girls could catch as many frogs as boys. I caught more frogs than my Daddy did. I will miss you this summer.'

Well, Manuela convinced me that I could catch frogs too ... different frogs than Ruby caught ... and I'll miss her all the summers of my life too.


Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

A beautiful untribute to a remarkable woman. How fitting that Ruby found the words.

You take care of yourselves, you and Joe. Thoughts and prayers are with you

Kristin said...

What a beautiful tribute to a truly fabulous friend.

She will be missed but she will also be remembered well.

Anonymous said...

Ruby's note was incredibly eloquent. I didn't even know of Manuela, but it is apparent how much she touched others' lives. I am so sorry for your loss, and for the loss to the entire Vita community.

Debbie (NJ)

CT said...

Dave, you are in my thoughts. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Carolyn said...

Yes, a beautiful tribute! You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

(((( HUGS )))) for both you and Joe. I respect you both so much, and in the few months since I first met you both at a seminar, I have truly been and continue to be inspired (and mentored from a distance) by what you do and say. For Mrs. Dalla Nora to be YOUR mentor, and your inspiration .... and the one you look up to .... well I can only imagine how incredible a person she was. Her genuine love for others will continue through those who have been directly and indirectly touched by her life ... and through both of you, I have felt the power of her presence. I'm thankful for her life, and her presence will continue to change people's lives for the better, decades from now ... because of her genuine love and efforts on behalf of others. I'm sorry you have lost a very good friend.

Much love,
Elizabeth and Andrew

Anonymous said...

I am very sorry for your loss You and Joe are in our thoughts and prayers CM

theknapper said...

I wonder if Manuela was like Ruby when she was young.
Take care.

Belinda said...

Paul and I were at the funeral and looked for you. Now I know you couldn't get back, but of course it would have been very difficult and meant that many people would have been disappointed where you are.

Well we were there for you, too.

I am so glad to hear of the memorial service--that there will be an opportunity to celebrate her life.

Cindy B. said...

God gave us memories that we might have June roses in the December of our lives. James M. Barrie

Anonymous said...

I was at the funeral, such a huge feeling of love in the building for such a remarkable woman.

She made a difference in my life. I cannot even imagine the number of people who can say the same.Countless numbers, I am sure.

Andrea S. said...

I never knew Manuella in life, except through this blog. But given what people have been sharing about her, she must have touched people who never even knew their lives were touched by her.

I like theknapper's question about whether she might have been like Ruby when she was young.

Darlene Cyrus said...

This has come as complete shock to me as I am away and only received this news today. Manuela was a leader and visionary in the disAbilities field. She was very passionate in her work and dedicated in her goals. Her work in abuse prevention has made the world safer for people with developmental disabilites and has changed the field entirely. She has positively influenced many people and has shared her strength and knowledge with many. Personally, I am honoured to have worked with her and she will be greatly missed and remembered by many. My condolences to her friends and family.

Ruti said...

I wish I'd known her.