Remember Janee

One of the first posts I ever read by Kate Walling, founder of Scrappy Face, was this one; that post was dedicated to her grandmother, who had just passed away.  When I emailed Kate for the first time (we met on Twitter),  she let me know that, although she may not blog consistently, when she does, she has something to say.

And now, I have something to say. Truth be told, since this past Memorial Day, I’ve taken time to wrap a bandage around my heart after June 11 left it broken.

This is a longer post.  With that said, let me start from the beginning.  Know there’s a lesson in here somewhere, but, truly, I’m getting “back on the blogging horse.” This is my story:

Over the past two years, my father had created a brilliant, much-needed consulting business, The Best Medical Business Solutions, helping practices strengthen their operational, financial and administrative core; it took off faster than anyone thought it would.  He and my stepmother had big plans to travel around the country in what they called their “retirement,” as neither one could sit still.  Janee couldn’t wait to cheer him on as he spoke at conferences, giving his wisdom to others who so desperately craved it.

His client list grew, and their own medical practice was booming.  (My father had served as Janee’s practice’s vice president of operations.)  Janee’s  tiny, high-heeled, well-dressed pace quickened, and they were excited at what their futures held.

And then my stepmother, a brilliant doctor, got sick.

What started as back pain turned out to be horrific, mind-boggling, stage four terminal cancer, diagnosed the week of Thanksgiving, the week of her 65th birthday, in 2011.  Their dreams shattered into a million pieces: the dermatology practice she worked her entire life to build fell to shambles with her inability to consistently see patients, and touring around the country for my father to see clients and attend conferences became impossible, since planning for tomorrow beat planning for next week.

I had started writing a post of her journey nearly four months ago, but Janee didn’t want her illness broadcast at that point in time, seeing cancer as a sign of weakness.  She held her head high for as long as she could, and, when she wasn’t strong enough to do so any more, just after this past Memorial Day, she entered hospice.

I spent her final weeks with her in hospice, as did the rest of our family.  We remained with her around the clock.  I took my trusted MacBook Air with me, and my clients were understanding, many relating to what I was going through.  They were patient with me, and, for three weeks, I worked at whatever hours I could, sending e-mails at midnight… because the days were filled with spending time with Janee.

On June 11, this strong, courageous woman, lost her battle.

I purchased and edited her obituary through my tears, sitting across from my father at their kitchen table.

Once the final Shiva visitors had left and I had stocked his freezer with as many prepared meals-for-one as the shelves could hold, I left my father’s home in South Florida to come back to Russ, our dogs, cat and life in Orlando.  I returned a different person.  A person who felt defeated; for the first time, there was nothing I could do.

But life had to go on, and I had a business to run, as did my father.  I took time to re-strategize with my current clients, regrouping with them on anything I had missed.  But, for the summer, I held off on additional growth until I knew I was ready for it.

And now, I’m ready.

With the help of one of my best friends, I’ve laid out a plan, which we’re currently activating.  (Even the strongest of women need a crutch when they’re broken and a compass when they’re lost.)

Perhaps you’ve noticed we now have a Facebook page, allowing The Leone Company to share snippets of knowledge with you daily.  I’m blogging again.  We’re creating an e-newsletter.  I have client prospect meetings and I’m again an active part of the non-profit organizations I love so much, sitting on committees and grants panels to boot.

All of the things I typically do for my clients, I’ve finally done for myself.  Because the stronger The Leone Company is, the better I can serve my clients.

And, as I’ve said before, I know I can’t do it all myself.  Because if there’s anything this year has taught me, it’s exactly how important it is to work with clients I value… and who value my role as a family member, too.

And so with that, I’m dedicating this post to my father, in honor of the ninth anniversary of his wedding to Janee.

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