Friday, January 04, 2008

Passing of a Co-worker

Some time ago, I resolved to not check in on others' blog unless I had recently written a post or was in the midst of making one. Because the last two weeks have been hectic, I have not been able to write and, therefore, have missed my online friends and their blogs. I hope you will forgive me, and I will try to catch up next week with all I've been waiting to share. Of course, I never know what will happen, but I will try.

I had big plans to post yesterday, but something much more important took precedence in the day. Our company lost a dedicated employee who was in charge of production for our site. After the exchange from third shift to first, Mike reviewed the day with his lead staff, helped for the set-up of the production line, and came up to the front office to meet with our boss Phillip just as he did every morning. Mike felt like he was experiencing indigestion from overeating at the holidays, so he went to the lunchroom to retrieve some antacid from the first aid kit after leaving Phillip's office. Shortly after, a co-worker walked into the lunchroom to find that Mike had collapsed. While waiting for the ambulance, 3 of our staff members tried to revive him. The ambulance and medical staff did everything they could, but later that morning, we received word that Mike passed away due to a massive heart attack.

Mike, Production Manager, on left with Steve, Ice Cream Pilot Plant Tech

It has been difficult for our staff to pick up the pieces. The production operators who worked for Mike had just seen him an hour before, and it was hard to believe that he was now gone. The gruff man with extremely high expectations was not here to lead the team, and the absence was difficult to understand. Thankfully, each of us saw glimpses of his soft side from time to time, but he was careful not to show it too often - as he needed his team to stay on task, respect him, keep up the expectations at work. But, Mike would visit my office for small chats...and occasionally, unexpectedly, a long talk would be shared. It started with sharing our cat stories. Lots and lots of funny cat stories. The discussions often landed on our mutual love of music. He had just started a band this year, and he seemed happier than he had ever been. And, every once in a while, he'd carefully ease into a spiritual topic. I have no business answering these types of questions for anyone, but I'd study my bible to try to give him the best answer I could. I am most thankful for those times, and I am thankful - and amazed - that he was comfortable to talk to me about these important matters.

We will be trying to find our way in the weeks ahead as our employees are very close. We have banded together. We've spent time talking, we've shared stories, and we've taken breaks when we've needed them. A grief counselor has been on our site today, and I am happy to see that several co-workers have taken advantage of the opportunity to speak with her. My close friend Alan has stepped up to take responsibility as the interim Production Manager. And, when our leadership team met with first and second shifts yesterday afternoon to wrap up the day, our friend Tyrone led us in the most beautiful prayer. It was wonderful to join together with our co-workers to thank God for our blessings, plead for His healing, and ask Him to wrap his arms around Mike's family. Please join us in praying for our staff and Mike's wife and two children.


ksingler72 said...

Strem, thanks for the pic of Mike. I was taking a little break to clear my head. After checking up on another friend, I clicked your link to see the last post .. thinking it was probably a new year's greeting. Of course, I'm a little weepy again but everything you said was right on target. Hard to imagine that smiling guy in the pic is our same grumbly Mike but he was both and that's what made him special to us!

Dani said...

We will be praying for his family and all of ya'll at work at well.

Kelly Spezzano said...

I am sorry to hear of the loss of your co-worker. I pray that the Lord will bring peace and comfort to his family (and all that were touched by his life).

We're looking forward to some new blogs from you when you're not so busy.

~*Rachel*~ said...

Miss you guys Strem! I will his family and all of you in my prayers.

Owl of the Desert said...

So sorry to hear about the loss of your co-worker. What a wonderful group of people to work with, who you can pray together with.