Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sharing a Memory -- Maryann Clark

In the summer of 2006, after much prayer, it was confirmed to me that the changes in our family had warranted my needing to go to work full time.  Since I had already accepted enrollment for preschool for that year, I decided that I would begin the job hunt in earnest beginning early in 2007.  There were several things I (thought I) knew:

1.  I didn't want to work for the public schools.  I ADORE children, but the politics in education include the regular workplace politics AND state and national politics.

2.  I was most likely to find work that was clerical in nature, based on my experience.

3.  I did NOT want to work for the Church.  This was a personal preference based on the fact that I really hoped to have missionary experiences through my work, and that I did not want to mix the Corporation with the gospel in my own life.

2007 was a pretty good time to find work.  In fact, I heard people say that you could pretty much choose where you wanted to work, because work was so plentiful.  That, however, was not the case for me.  I probably applied at 8 or 10 different places, and I did not even get called in to interview except once (and I BOMBED that interview).

One day I was online, searching through jobs, when a small thought told me to look at the Church's employment site.  I had thought that before, but this time I finally obeyed the prompting.  It was getting close to the end of the school year, and I was getting desperate.  (Note of advice:  Don't get desperate before you obey a prompting.)

I ended up applying for three different jobs at the Church that day, including one for the Physical Facilities Department.  I did NOT want that job.

You guessed it:  just a few days later I was called for an interview.  Having bombed the only other interview I had gotten in all of my job hunting, I made this one a matter of serious prayer.  I went in for a 15 - 30 minute interview and left three hours later, having met with three different levels of managers and feeling confident that this was my job if I wanted it.

The big question was DID I WANT IT?  It was working for the Church, for heaven's sake!  And not just for the Church--for the Physical Facilities Department!  That was SO temporal!  It was SO Corporation!  It was SO not what I wanted!

The next night was ward choir practice.  I had not said much about this job to anyone but Spencer, but it was weighing heavily on my mind.  That night I sat next to Maryann Clark.  Maryann worked for the Church, in Physical Facilities.  We had spoken a number of times about some of the frustrations of her work (which mirrored some of the experiences my family members had).  I confided in her about this interview.  I told her what the work was.  I expressed my concerns about working for this Corporation.  I told her it would be disappointing NOT to have missionary experiences through my work.  I also told her about the sweet experiences I'd had while interviewing, about our need for me to have work and my fear of not being home all day for our children, and that I was sure the job was going to be offered to me.

Maryann was serious and sweet and sincere and kind.  She told me that yes, there were challenges with working for the Church.  Sometimes they are same challenges you face in other companies, and sometimes they are very unique because it is the Church.  She told me of the wonderful people she worked with and the friendships she'd made.  She reminded me that the Church was a VERY family-friendly workplace.  And then she said, "Aundrea, if that is where you need to work, only you will know.  It has its challenges, but it is also fulfilling and wonderful in many, many ways.  I know you will be taken care of, no matter what your decision is."  We both shed tears, and she gave me a  hug.  And I knew that when that job was offered to me, I would take it.

Just a few days later I received the phone call offering me that job, which was my loved job on 2LL.  After that Maryann and I often talked work, and usually it was to express frustration about something that you really only understand when you are colleagues.

Maryann was involved in many organization changes that came down from Headquarters, and when it was all said and done, she was doing the job of two people or more.  It was a difficult time for her professionally, but she hung on because it was work and because she LOVED the man she worked for.  She told me on multiple occasions that she knew that her boss was a friend from the pre-existence and that she would continue to take care of him as long as he needed her, just as she knew he would do all in his power to take care of her.

Yesterday was Maryann's funeral.  She was about 6 months younger than my mom, which is definitely NOT old enough to have fought and lost to cancer.  Our loss of her physical presence, however, is the ONLY win that cancer can claim, because her spirit was strong, and her circle of influence was enormous!  I will love her forever for her high spirits, her optimism, her happy disposition, her love of Harrison Ford, the sweet turn of her countenance when she talked about her sweetheart Greg, her adoration of her children and grandchildren, the way she took Taylor and Ashtyn under her wing and made them feel like they were her favorites in Primary, the overachiever in her that made her lessons memorable, and the fact that her sweet and calm reassurance influenced my decision to spend the last 5 1/2 years in a place and with people I love.

One other thing:  the closing speaker at the funeral was Maryann's boss and dear, cherished friend, who said that the only funeral harder for him than this one was his own wife's; who is retired from employment but is wearing a black and white nametag identifying him as a representative of Jesus Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; who knew she was the person he should hire before they'd gone past their initial greeting; and who confirmed a friendship--forged (at least in this life) at the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop--which will last through eternity.

Thank heaven for the influence of wonderful friends!


Kim and Preston said...

Oh Aundrea, what a cherished friendship. She sounds like an amazing women.

val said...

Oh Aundrea. I loved this. Thanks for sharing. I miss our sweet Maryann.