Yesterday’s beginning was one to forget. Whenever your phone rings prior to 7 am, it’s typically not a good thing!!! I learned via phone at 6:35 am that a man I’d worked with on a training program for the Department of Homeland Security had died suddenly on Thursday evening. I had just talked to him on Tuesday and we made plans to get together next week to make updates to our training class. I was mortified after the call. I’m not sure how old he was, but he was definitely younger than forty. Later in the day, I learned that he had died of a massive heart attack. I was beyond sad!!
On my flight to Chicago I thought a lot about my friend and the fun we’d had over the past two years delivering training. As the plane landed I wasn’t too excited about giving the book presentation for Arden Courts that had been rescheduled from last month. I got to the hotel and worked for a few hours prior to the event. As I put on my purple clothes for Alzheimer’s awareness, which have become my trademark for all my presentations, I began to get excited. I headed the three miles to the event location almost an hour early. As I drove onto the road where Arden Courts is located, I saw something I’d not seen before… A banner announcing my presentation!!! What???? WOW!!
When I arrived in the lobby of the Memory Care Community it was almost pandemonium. Someone yelled “Loretta’s here!!!” over the loudspeaker. The locked doors to ensure residents couldn’t wander off began to click open and staff members came from everywhere. Choruses of “Hi Loretta” began. I was hugging people I’d never met as if we’d known each other for our entire lives. In reality, I had known them for exactly one month, when we had talked via phone for hours as the flight delays from a fire in the FAA Tower dragged on for hours and I was unable to get to the event.
After all the hugging, Pat, the wonderful Director at Arden Courts, ushered me outside to the banner and instructed a selected camera person to take photos of me and the banner for the Chicago Tribune. There is a Manor Care facility next to the Arden Courts (they are owned by the same company) and some of their staff members also came out to wave and snap photos!!! Holy Cow!!!
We then arrived in the community room where I’d be speaking, and you could immediately smell the wonderful meal being prepared for the attendees of the event. There was more hugging of the staff members I hadn’t met, and a special hug was given to Van, the woman who is the head chef for the facility!! Her meal was beyond awesome and I felt special!!
As we set up my laptop for the presentation, we noticed that we needed a HDMI cord to make it work, but the facility had misplaced their cord and I didn’t have one with me. But not to fear, since it was still 45 minutes until the start of the dinner I said I’d drive to the Radio Shack just two blocks away to get one.
Just then three people simultaneously volunteered to drive me and a very friendly ruckus broke out to see who was going to get the honor!! This was sooooo much fun!! Kathy was selected to drive and we were back with the cord in less than 15 minutes. There was more talking, laughing and hugging as setup continued and attendees began to arrive. There was something really special about this Arden Courts staff. They were of all ethnicities and ages, yet they didn’t just work together they seem to REALLY love each other too. What wonderful warmth filled the room!!!
As I signed books that Pat had ordered in advance from the Manor Care warehouse for the attendees, Pat began to give me the names of all of her staff members so they could receive copies of my book as well.
Many of them were surprised and seemed just overjoyed to receive a personally signed copy the book. As the meal started, Chef Van hugged her book and didn’t put it down. Tears came to my eyes as the entire scene was almost overwhelming.
The presentation went incredibly well. Instead of the fifty people who were scheduled to attend the September presentation, more than 60 people were in attendance, which they attributed to the banner they had hung outside. I learned later that it was the FIRST time ever that Arden Courts had used a banner in their marketing. Again, WOW!! Pat said that the other Chicago area locations that had hosted me earlier in the year had encouraged her to host me as well. She said she was overjoyed she did. Attendees left full of food, information, and hope for the future, all of which they said they attributed to me. As Pat and I read through the evaluations, they all were perfect fives and everyone wrote comments about how great I was! One person wrote “Best presentation ever! So worth the 50 miles I drove to get here!” Reading the comments people had written inspired me to keep doing what I’m doing!!
After the presentation Pat and I sat in her office for more than an hour and just talked about life, our jobs and families and it was one of the best times of my career. To top it off, she gave me a special gift. It’s the 20th
anniversary of Arden Courts and they had special tea cups made for special clients and Pat gave one to me!!! She also promised to mail me the banner next week. They are going to leave it up for a few more days to hopefully spur more book sales for me. How cool is that?? All of the Arden Courts are special, with special people who work in an amazing culture of love and care, but the Palos Heights Illinois group seems to be the most extraordinary of all!!
I had given everything I had to that presentation and was so exhausted by the time I arrived back at the hotel that I immediately went to bed!! When I woke up this morning, I realized that of all the books I has signed last night, I hadn’t signed one for Pat, the most special person of all!! So I drove back to Arden Courts before heading to the airport and put Pat’s signed copy of the book under the door to her office. I think she’ll be surprised, but there was no way I could leave her out as she’s an outstanding person!! Pat and her group had helped to turn a really sad day into an extraordinary one! I’m truly blessed and beyond grateful for the experience!! My Mom would be so proud of me!!