cathy leibman

One of a Kind

cathy

I wasn’t picturing this day back in the 8th grade when, playing the role of Charlie Brown to her as the little red-haired girl, she didn’t know my name. Nor on the first day of freshman year in high school, when the divine miracle of alphabetical order put Cathy Livingston’s locker next to mine. Nor on the 4th of July the following summer, when our long romance began.

Not when we married, and certainly not when the babies came, four in all.
But seven years ago I learned this day was coming–and here we are. Football players strive for ‘yards after contact.’ Cathy battled to get ‘years after diagnosis,’ and she got them. She saw kids get married and she met her grandbabies in those hard-won years.

She’s gone, but not. She lives on in the intelligence of her children, the determination (stubbornness?) of her grandchildren, the formative influence she had on me, our children, the kids she cared for, and in a thousand other ways. This lover, child enthusiast, Disney fan, dolphin watcher, mother, and grandmother endures in our hearts and memories.

At the end of our life together, I am filled with an abundant gratitude, not regrets. Sad, and hopeful. Who wouldn’t be? On a ventilator, unable to speak, nearly paralysed, in her last hours she communicated by writing. One of her messages to me: “You have a lot of wonderful life left.” One chapter ends, another begins.

My work for you is not done. I don’t have the option of curling up into a ball, there is too much to do. I’ll need a little time and space—but I’ll be back. After all, making the most of it is one of the things I learned from Cathy.
Thank you all, again, for everything.

About Cathy and Me, and the Path Ahead

© Can Stock Photo / Geleol

Some of you have known me since childhood, or for a very long time. Others, we’ve met more recently. Not all of you know this story in full. But circumstances have made it pertinent to all.

It’s personal. But in my integrated life, personal things have business ramifications.

First, some history. In the eighth grade I was Charlie Brown to Cathy as the little red-haired girl – I was totally infatuated, but she didn’t even know my name. That changed the morning of the first day of freshman year in high school. Looking for my assigned locker, there she was: the magic of alphabetical order put Cathy Livingston’s locker right next to mine.

By the following 4th of July, when I was 15 and she almost was, our long romance began. We married four summers later, and built a life over the next four-plus decades.

Ten years ago Cathy developed troubling symptoms. Seven years ago she was diagnosed with four kinds of lung crud and pulmonary artery disease. These things are big trouble. Dr. Internet gave her 2-5 years to live; he didn’t know how tough she is. However, recently things became critical.

During an emergency admission to the Mayo Hospital ICU, the lung transplant evaluation team roared into action. After a seven day whirlwind of consultations with six kinds of specialists, they listed her for transplant with a very high priority, based on her dire condition.

With a commitment to communications via every means and an able, growing staff, I have been able to serve as caregiver these past several years AND take care of business. Cathy has gotten what she needed from me, and business adapted – it did not suffer. I have been able to work a full schedule, with the time flexibility afforded by 21st century communications and the best clients in the world.

You need to know what the path ahead looks like. For perhaps four months after transplant, I’ll be able to work much as I have in recent years. This means I need the scheduling flexibility we’ve already figured out. For those four months, I may not spend any time in the shop. Cathy will be my top priority, and the role of a transplant caregiver is quite demanding during this phase.

Thereafter, I’ll have more flexibility than I’ve had at any time in the past five years. With new lungs, Cathy will be able to walk on the beach again, and drive, and go to the store, and live with a lot more independence.

I still want to work to age 92. And the business is still the source of the health insurance and other resources to do what we need and want to do on the home front. I feel my obligations to you very deeply, and I will be there for you.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.