REMEMBERING DAYS PAST: Remembering the Fallen Who Have Impacted Our Lives!
Original Post Date: June 25, 2022 | Craig Maguire, IMPRESSIONS FCS Inc
Over my career I have had the pleasure of working with so many valuable and remarkable people, both as a colleague to a vast array of professional collaterals as well as with countless numbers of unique and compassionate individuals, clientele, and partners.
These very experiences have helped to shape my career, and my life in general, and with little exception, I have rarely ever spoken of these experiences and the impact they have had on me, to this day.
Over the past month or so, a number of things have created an awakening within me as my health has taken a decline and manifested several not-so-pleasant effects. Having said this, I am not prepared to let my health fail me, now or at anytime, despite, the darkness of the road ahead and the many uncertainties yet to unfold. As most of us often do, at such times, we remanence of days gone by, decisions made, and the route our life has taken, based on our choices made throughout our life.
This article is therefore unlike any I have written before. It is the sharing of my memory of earlier times, simpler times, and of a particular time when the shaping of my passions, career and the very essence of who I have become was truly shaped and firmly planted. Moreover, it is an opportunity to present to new social workers and career professionals what was once practiced in the performance of our duties. We didn't have computers on every desk, or cell phones in every hand. Instead of relying so heavily on technology to communicate with others, we were out of the office, walking into homes every day, and connecting with people, our clientele, on a face-to-face and personal basis. Our ability to practice our trade was not limited or hindered by office politics, or stringent acts of micromanagement and stifled abilities. Rather, we were encouraged to grow and develop as social workers by pure direct experiences with others and were always inspired to embrace such opportunities with confidence and pride.
The following recollection is a testament to the freedoms once enjoyed in affecting the lives of others and, more so, the affects that those long-ago relationships ultimately had on us and the shaping of our passions for decades to come.
It was sometime in the summer of 1989, and I was on-call as a Child Protection Worker. I remember it was an early Saturday morning when I was contacted to meet police at an address where a young child had called 911 as he was afraid to be at home alone. According to the child, his mother had left the house the night before to go to the store to buy cigarettes and never returned. Upon arrival, a young boy of the age of 8 opened the door for two burly cops and a tall straggly man, namely me. Before long, it was well established that this child had been left alone and abandoned by his single mother, who struggled with addictions and was known to police. Almost immediately, it became clear that I would have no option but to apprehend this child on a "need for protection basis", based on the evident abandonment by his mother. With police soon departing the scene, and my formal decision to apprehend this child, I was preparing him for the inevitable need to have him stay in foster care until we were able to locate his mother. Before I could finish my explanation of events to come, this youngster looked up at me and politely asked if we could check to see if his mother was next door at the neighbours. Having already called upon neighbours when police were searching the home, I humbly opted to supply this youngster with the assurance that his mom was not close by. But before long, we had knocked on every door on the street, asking if anyone had seen or knew the where-abouts of this youngster's mother. After over an hour of knocking on houses, the boy reluctantly said to me, "I guess she really is gone this time". As we were loading some personal belongings of his into the car, he stopped and instantly started to cry. He ran up to me, threw his arms around me, and said, "Thanks for trying to find my mom". To this day, I have never once forgotten those tear-filled brown eyes looking up at me and his realization that he was all alone. To this day, I firmly believe that he had known all along that finding his mother was improbable on a muggy early Saturday morning. No less, it was my belief that he had to come to that realization on his own and not through some stranger who simply might have found it easier to give up and leave without trying,
Remember, this was back in a time when office windows opened, staff could smoke in their offices, and a degree of individual autonomy of practice was not only permissible but highly encouraged. It is likely that, in this day and age, such "extra" measures would be seen as unwarranted and beyond the responsibility assigned to Child Protection Workers. It is one such action of compassion and empathy that I remain proud of today and that has followed me throughout my professional career and always remain firmly intact.
A very special and close bond was formed with this youngster on this day; a bond that would last the next two years as I was assigned his Child Protection Worker. The following years would see this delightful and always smiling child in and out of care and, it seemed no matter the cause or concerns, the Courts always sided with returning the boy back home with his mother. Being a brand-new social worker and recognizing foster care was not a preferred experience for any child, it seemed to me that we were destined to only repeat this cycle time and time again. Even the child once said to me, "here we go again", indicating his realization at such a young age that things simply were never going to change in his World.
My two years of "friendship" with this boy, and the repeated guardianship entrusted to me over this period of time, this young boy became one of the most important people in my life. This was not a matter of becoming "emotionally attached" but rather the awareness of a young child who, at various parts of his life, was left vulnerable and helpless, beyond his control or influence. Having grown up myself in a single parent home with no siblings, I could easily relate to this youngster's life and, while I never needed to worry about a safe and stable home throughout my childhood, I found I could easily relate to and understand this boy's experiences. This may be why our friendship grew so strong over these years and how our relationship became so valuable and meaningful for us both.
Special events like birthdays, school activities and plays, baseball games, Christmas and all the other holidays took new meaning for me. My attendance and personal contributions to this youngster's experiences were front and centre and the joy it brought him was only heightened a 1000% for me. While all the children on my caseload held special meaning and purpose for me, this young lad had captured my heart with his unique personality and his ability to brighten anyone's day with his awesome and captivating smile.
Unfortunately, his wonderful smile hid the trauma and neglect he had experienced for most of his young life. He was a child who chose to focus on the future and held such high aspriations for his young life. He rarely ever was seen sad or upset and never had a discussion revealing the pain and suffering he was feeling inside, despite the countless opportunities to do so. It is my belief that he felt compelled to face each new day with optimism and hope as opposed to despair and hopelessness. And, he did just that. He was probably the happiest child I encountered in those early days of professional practice. What I didn't realize then was that his young mind could... would only withstand these pressures inside him for so long.
One day, again while I was serving on-call duties for the weekend, I received a call from police to attend a very familiar address all too-well known to me. It was the home of this youngster - a home I had visited so many times over the past years. Realizing right away that something was definitely wrong, as I had not heard from the youngster directly, I raced to the house that day like I had never done before or anytime since. In fact, by the time I reached the boy's home, I realized I had two patrol cars who had just pulled in the driveway behind me. They had seen me speeding and had followed me, with lights and sirens, for which I was completely oblivious; perhaps, because I was so mezmerized in thought of what might be wrong at the scene ahead of me. Upon arriving at the home, police and myself found ourselves standing outside with no one answering the door. The decision was made to kick the door in as no other timely recourse appeared evident. Upon entering the home that morning, I had no idea that a huge piece of me would never be the same again - that, I would never be the same again. With no warning, no signs, and no disclosures or requests for help, this sweet boy of only 10 years decided to take his life. I was beyond shocked. I never realized that a child so young could ever possibly think of suicide, much less commit it.
On a small round coffee table in the living room, darkened with coffee stains and cigarette ashes, was a brief note and a child's bracelet. The note was addressed to me. My heart sank even further, I started to cry, I wondered if he had reached out to me and if I might have missed his call. While I wasn't allowed to touch the note, the police officer was kind enough to read me it's contents. These words have stayed with me my entire life and I will never lose memory of them. The note read, "I'm sorry Craig, you tried and I love you for that. I can't go on no more. Have my chain to remember me." And with that, my life was transformed; the sudden realization of a precious child lost; and, my inability to prevent this tragic event - a memory that has fueled my passion for the past 35 years of my professional career and personal life.
I was only 24 year old - and learning of the harshness of life - in ways my young inexpereinced mind was unprepared for and ill-equipped to make sense of. It was then that I had to make a conscious decision. I either needed to find a new carerr and bury my pain, or I would find the courage to carry on and make sure I never encountered another child, ever, to whom such a devastating and destructable fate would befall. Hence, I sit here today, approx. 35 years later, remembering a time long ago, at the start of my career, that helped shape the passion, the love and the determination that has kept me real, grounded, and fully committed to those whose lives I have been Blessed to have have known ane being a part of every day since that one!
With the past month having seen such drastic and dangerous concerns with my health, this memory has entered my mind unexpectedly, yet again, and despite the pain of an unconsciousable loss of such magnitude and sadness, I am reminded how precious all life is and how, in a matter of only moments, life can end without warning.
Such an experience as this, and so many more, have been the driving force in all my life ambitions and has shaped me into the person, the husband, the surrogate father, and the therapist I have become and remain today.
There has only been one other significant person in my life who has ever had such a tremendous impact in my life, outside of my mother. That person is my loving wife, Catherine. She has taught me, over the years, to believe in myself again, to like myself again, to recognize my worth again. She helped me to replace all I had lost and to again find love, trust and happiness within my life. She has taught me that tomorrow will always bring new hope and new opportunities. She has loved me unconditionally and without hesitation. And, she has stood by my side for far too many incidents where I almost didn't make it out of the emergency department. She is and will always be my best friend and I am eternally grateful for her coming into my life, accepting me, and giving me her greatest gift - that of herself. She is my inspiration and my hope and she has taught me that goodness still exists in a most harsh World and that, together, we will always find peace and harmony amongst ourselves.
While there is no predicting anyone's future, I remain positive and optimistic that my health concerns will soon be resolved and I will no longer face continued dangers encountered as of late. It needs to be said however, that I feel Blessed with the many wonderful and special people who have entered my life and have shown me what true courage and passion is really all about.
At the age of 55 years now, still a fairly young man, I appreciate now, more than ever before, the many GIFTS shared with me over my lifetime and the people who have brought such unconditional love with them, in every fashion and regard.
While I cannot name the young boy who forever changed my life, he is indeed still in my heart and soul, a place where I keep him eternally. And, to this day, I still wear the bracelet that my dear friend left behind for me, in his memory.
Remembering.... it's not always easy to do, especially when such memories evoke long ago
pains we would sooner forget. But it's these same memories that have served to make us who we are today and are as much a part of us as any physical attribute we possess.
I urge my readers to remember their past, and the many individuals who have helped to shape and inspire their life over the years. Moreover, it is my deepest hope and prayer that all can find the strength, love, courage and determination to never let go of these memories or the new life it breathes into each of us, each and every time we stop to remember.
All the best to each of you, and embrace life now as let's be honest = there is just too much left to see, to do and to experience and we just never know when time will eventually run out.
Remember as well, that the power of happiness rests with you and you alone. When you stop searching for it, for any reason, it escapes you. When all hope escapes you, little remains. Embrace your loved ones now, let them inside, talk and share with them every chance you get, be available, LISTEN and most of all, appreciate the value you hold inside you that still to this day, brings meaning and purpose to your life. These can all be found in your precious memories of days gone by and remembering those who still stand beside you and those who have fallen but will never be forgotten.
Your memories are windows that only you can open!
About the Author:
Craig Maguire is a proactive executive with 30+ years utilizing organizational development experience, project/case management capabilities, therapeutic counselling and intervention services, business management and administrative accountabilities, and strategic educational/coaching facilitation.
He is an inspiring leader who possesses outstanding visioning, strategic planning and change management skills. With years of leadership and community experience, he is recognized for his passionate intuitive leadership, community investment, stakeholder engagement, enthusiasm, public speaking, and exceptional ability to motivate and engage people in proactive strategies, with emphasis on developing local, Provincial, and National partnerships and alliances.
Craig is engaged in private practice operations through his established organization, IMPRESSIONS FCS Inc. and is Provincially-licensed as a registered social worker in British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories, Canada. He is also accredited as a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP-II) and a Certified Child/Adolescent Trauma Professional (CATP).