The odd couple

Author’s note: When word got around about Vera’s illness and this column, my traffic to this blog has soared with many people leaving their good wishes as comments. Now some family members have also posted updates on Vera’s condition. Please be sure and check back from time to time for the latest information. Get well soon, Vera!

When Vera Gleason turned 65 years old in 1993 she was required to retire from her job as at Precise Plastics in Avon. Not quite ready to relax and enjoy her Golden Years, she came to work for a fledgling Avon newspaper, The Clarion. Thus began an association that has lasted for over 15 years but has recently been interrupted by poor health.

Vera was the last full-time survivor of the Clarion newspaper staff. When the paper was discontinued two years ago, I kept Vera on to run my continuing business ventures with the Clarion Copy Center, Genesee Graphics and more recently the Genesee Volley Tennis Club. I did so because I needed some one to keep the office fires burning as I transitioned into other fields and I really couldn’t imagine life without Vera.

In her quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) way she has kept me on track by constantly questioning, reminding and sometimes nagging me to take care of all those pesky details I would sooner ignore. It has been a great shock to my system then, that for the last two weeks Vera has been in the hospital and I don’t know if she will ever make it back to work.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be such a shock, that someone 80 years old might retire, but Vera has always been my Rock of Gibraltar– the one constant in a world of turmoil. In the last two weeks I’ve come to realize even more how many important details she routinely took care of, details that I have even less time to attend to now, in this very busy spring season.

I first noticed a problem with Vera’s health about 6 weeks ago when she developed a hacking cough. This was unusual, because she is normally as quiet as a churchmouse in the office. Through a number of courses of antibiotics and other drugs, she continued to work, but her strength ebbed.

At the end of a tough day two weeks ago she told me that she did not feel well enough to drive home and that her daughter was picking her up. Her daughter took her to the doctor, who promptly called an ambulance and Vera has been in the hospital ever since. Talk about working right to the end!

I visited her in the hospital last week after she was transferred to Strong’s heart unit. She had been developing fluid on her heart and was pretty wiped out. She told me that the way she felt, she couldn’t imagine ever returning to work, but I told her she might surprise herself. It wouldn’t surprise me.

For now, I am keeping Vera’s position open for her. I’m keeping sporadic hours at the copy center with a sign on the door that basically says “call me if you need service.” It’s not a permanent soultion, but it will do for now, until we see what happens.

Vera is beloved by many, but I’ll admit she sometimes annoyed me. Her biggest sin was attacking me with a list of questions and problems as soon as I poked my head into the office. Now that there is no one there to do that, does that mean the problems have gone away? Not hardly!

Get well soon, Vera!


17 responses to “The odd couple

  1. Get well soon, Vera.

  2. Thinking about you Vera! Get some rest and enjoy your vacation from Corrin!

  3. Colleen Backus

    Having just read that wonderfully accurate account of my Mom’s post retirement shenanigans at Clarion Call to her, here at Strong Hospital, I can tell you it cheered her and we got a few smiles out. She much appreciates your kind thoughts. Here’s to Vera! Colleen

  4. Wishing you the very best….Sending you healing toughts…Hurry home…

  5. Vera and I were part of an elightened group of people who really have loved and appreciated you. And, of course, we loved to talk about you as well.

    It is a great shock to hear this. Such great character does not come this way very often. I can’t adequately express how big a space will have to be filled in so many lives.

    Corrin, my best wishes to you in what you are going through. She was the mother of us all in unfailing honesty, good advice and good humor. And of course aside from Amy, she was and is your right hand. She hasn’t gone anywhere – she just a new address. We’ll all make a note of it.

  6. Spring has sprung so it’s time to spring Vera from the hospital… saps running so here’s to grabbing some of that fresh energy…take care, heal.

  7. Dear Vera,
    Jill has emailed me with your article on the Clarion’s website. I am sorry you have been ill. Please do get better soon. I hope each new day brings you more and more sunshine.
    Cindy Sattora

  8. Vera is resting at hospital, awaiting word from the “experts” regarding her next steps! Today a walk and some bed exercise. We are doing okay! colleen

  9. Good Morning Vera:

    What does God say? He says that Vera has been a great example of the Christian faith. The lord has give her the strength and wisdom to share with my kids and Colleen kids (it’s about teaching each generation the right things and Vera has done that). The lord has positioned her daughter Jill and husband Lou to be strong for her and to be there for her. So I believe Vera is blessed and instead of suffering there is joy, because Vera is a true disciple of the lord.

    And if you want to come out to sunny Arizona, there is always a room for you

    God bless
    Zach and Ricky SR

  10. Mom had a fairly good day today.
    I never expected any of this to happen. I expected that Vera would continue to work with Corrin and in about 15 maybe 20 years, she would be at home here in Avon with me and Lew.
    I truly believe that Vera has never done anything bad in her life. She is a good woman and an incredible mother and grandmother. Anything that I have in me that is good, my mother gave to me. She is, and remains, the wind beneath my wings. I could not have raised my beautiful sons, Colby and Zachary without her. I could not have pursued my many careers without her.
    Her humor is my strength. An example of this is when we have to move her in her bed she refers to it
    as “Dwarf Tossing”.
    Thank you to all of you who are praying for her and thinking of her.
    Keep praying…because it never fails.

  11. Nancy McPhaul

    A friend of Colleen’s is thinking about you and wishing you well, Vera.

  12. Vera Update…she is feeling much better. Expect that surgery should be tomorrow or the next day. They just called and said that they
    are moving her to a different room in the same unit…gracious…it’s always something. Thanks
    for your prayers.

  13. jenny Mirling

    Colleen, daughter of Vera, so very ably and loyally assists my 91 year old mum, and is impressed by her spunk and wit.
    No wonder, she knows one because she is one and comes from one. One with spunk and wit.
    Strength to all!

  14. Colleen Backus

    Vera is resting after a long day of surgery on the 6th. She did beautifully but now is annoyed with the drains and wires all over her body. She is looking forward to the removal of all “extras” and getting back to her self, her home and her friends! colleen

  15. That is good news! Thanks for posting! Get home soon Vera. One month is long enough to be in the hospital!

  16. Vera is at home and making progress.
    She sleeps alot but I think she needs it.
    Niece Chelsea sleeps too. Niece Merideth
    will be here next week. One step at a time.

  17. An epilogue to this story: Vera eventually did recover and return to work after about six months off, albeit not on a full-time basis because my business is a little slow. She still comes in one morning a week when I need her.

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