This is kind of a bittersweet story — I’ll get to the reason why in a little while.

A couple weekends before Christmas, I had a “Triple-Gig” Saturday. I try to avoid lining up so many gigs in one day, but in this case, it made the most sense. This particular small business client, specializing in executive coaching and leadership training, wanted me to take care of a bunch of things before the end of the year. There are three partners in this business, each one wanted a house-call, along with a visit to their office just north of Chicago.

I visited one of the partners the previous weekend, because she lived the furthest away in Aurora, a far west suburb of Chicago. She needed some minor WinXP tweaking and help with renewing her antivirus subscription. The other two partners lived near each other and their office, so it made sense to cluster them all together in the same day.

Of course, when you have three destinations all lined up for a single day, timing is everything. The first stop of the day should have been a quick one, but it was anything but. This particular customer has an old Compaq desktop that is slower than molasses. I had to rip and replace her AV and upgrade her Retrospect HD backup software. Those two tasks took around three hours. Each reboot was, and I’m not kidding, a 30 minute endeavor. I’ve seen paint dry quicker. I’ve been nudging her to get a new PC for quite some time, but I think after seeing how long it takes to boot up (she likes to leave her PC on for weeks on end), she’s going to take the plunge. Finally, I got through it all and headed to the next stop.

The next stop was their offices. I met their office manager, Robin, and she had a list all ready to go for me. Thankfully, I was able to crank through it quickly, and was in and out in less than an hour. Then I set off for my third and final stop of the day.

The last stop was at another partner’s home near their offices. She was a Mac user that had somewhat of a Rube Goldberg network setup, including an old CRT-based eMac with a failing screen that made it nearly impossible to use. After getting her automatic backup working, I took care of a couple of other issues and then wrapping things up.

But back to why this post is so bittersweet. Scarcely a week after taking care of these folks, I learned that their office manager, Robin, had passed away suddenly of a pulmonary embolism. I don’t know why — but it affected me deeply. She was a really great person and fellow animal lover. She was in her late 40s, very active, and was involved with her community, church, and other worthy causes. Attending a memorial service is tough enough, but to attend one on Christmas Eve is a real tragedy. I made a donation to the ASPCA, figuring it was an appropriate action to honor her memory. She lived by herself with her two cherished cats, and I’m helping her co-workers to find new homes for them. I’d have taken them both, but already having two cats, it wasn’t really practical. I hate to call upon a cliche, but hers was a life well lived, and after talking with many who attended the service, she touched many lives.