In the past few weeks, Gerard and I have been bowled over by the hundreds, no, thousands of messages of support, love, encouragement and others’ inspiring stories, which so many have so kindly and generously offered to both Gerard and my mum. Acts of heartfelt kindness that have touched us both as a couple and as a family and for which we are truly grateful to one and all….if we were ever in doubt that human kindness is all about us, we have been proved wrong a thousand fold by the recent out pouring of sheer love and generosity of spirit that have flooded our way… in amongst such humbling times, I received an unexpected visitor last week; it was a visit I had never expected, was not hoping for and never envisaged happening and I was thrown off guard for a moment and rendered completely speechless, (something that happens very rarely!!) but, which has left me with a renewed faith in people.
Let me explain… I was at the hotel as the invited guest speaker at an entrepreneurs event, that was being co-hosted by a bank, a firm of solicitors and an accountancy firm. It was kind of them to invite me, but I am under no personal illusion that actually Gerard would have been their preferred choice- they were too charming to say so and as Gerard was originally going to be out of the country travelling, the event was planned long before his illness was discovered, I had reluctantly agreed to be his very less able stand in. If I am honest, I was not flattered to be considered a worthy speaker, more, I was embarrassed to be addressing a room full of very successful business people, all of them far more successful than I will ever be and I really wondered what I had to say that would be of any interest to them; however as they were dining “chez moi”, I thought it would be rude to duck out and so it was that I found myself waiting in the wings to speak for approx. 20 minutes, between main course and dessert.
Whilst I was waiting for my moment in the spotlight- actually read that as, more a scared rabbit caught in the headlights (!)… there’s no denying that whilst Gerard is far better used to such attention and can manage such tasks with great aplomb, I don’t like being the centre of attention and am much less accomplished than he is at such events. Sorry I digress… whilst waiting, in popped a face from the past, one which I recognised immediately as being someone who had been a regular visitor to the hotel for many years, but who approx. 18 months ago, I had had cause to exchange heated emails with, over a complaint that had been made, which I deemed as unfair to the team and for which I had responded with a measured and honest response, accepting the constructive comments and politely pointing out where our opinions differed…. The response back had been that my reply was “ludicrous” and the person in question would never visit again- that was fine by me as I had no wish for them to do so as they had, in my view, been offensive. Thus I was completely taken aback to have the said person standing in front of me at the hotel, so long after the event, which I had filed way away in the recesses of my consciousness.
What followed was a heartfelt and most sincere apology, which was so unexpected, not only in it being offered at all, but also in the kind and humble way it was offered, that I was shocked to the core and was speechless for a moment… it touched me greatly, to the point where I was truly lost for words and even now I am still humbled by the bravery and courage of the person concerned to admit their error and to even want to make amends…. I hasten to add they knew nothing of the situation with Gerard or my mum’s illness, so it was not out of pity, just a sense that they wanted to apologise for past actions and make amends…. In that moment, that had so affected me, how I wished I was brave, strong and humble enough to follow their lead and have the chance to right wrongs through the years.
And so it was that I then walked into a room full of entrepreneurs, albeit in a bit of a daze, as I was so shocked by my unexpected visitor and what they had said to me. I spoke to them all the only way I know how, with honesty and passion for an industry I love. I answered questions, gave snippets of news, told funny stories and actually, I loved every moment of being “caught in the headlights” as they were all so charming and interested and they all thanked me profusely as they left and said what an entertaining time they had all had and how much they had enjoyed my honesty and insightful talk… who knew I could step into Gerard’s shoes and not let him down- phew!
Once again, Gerard and I send our heartfelt thanks to the many, many of you who have read my recent blog posts, comments, sent messages, called and posted on FB, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like… we have been bowled over by you all- Thank you
Until next time