Lorraine Cosgrove Ware

October 29, 2007

The following are comments I was honored to have the opportunity to share on the very sad occasion of the memorial service for my friend Lorraine. (Photo here by her friend Ronnie.)

Just a brief disclaimer, in words from the poet John Donne:
Language thou art too narrow, and too weak
To ease us now; great sorrow cannot speak.

So we may not speak of our sorrow today, though we feel it. We’ll speak instead of our gratitude for having known Lorraine.

Lorraine was impeccable.

In her dress, her manners, her taste and how she kept her home (and her boat), in the work she produced and her professionalism… also in her treatment of friends and loved ones. Everything about her was polished and crisp and sharp.

If you didn’t know Lorraine and heard that description, you might picture someone prim or fussy or stuck-in-the-muddish.

I had the really good fortune to share an office with Lorraine for six years at her most recent workplace. I have to admit: That first day when she came in with her impeccable self to the office, I was intimidated. And when, day after day, she was so perfectly put together and coiffed, so professional, so clearly accomplished and ambitious…I, feeling like a lumbering ragamuffin by contrast, wondered, gee, will we have anything in common? Will we even get along?

As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for me to be delighted by her friendliness and surprised by her sort-of sly and very sharp and even subversive wit. That’s not what appearances had led me to expect. She was definitely not prim or fussy or stuck-in-the-muddish. She was a total blessing to my work life, and we became real friends in and beyond the office.

We solved many of the world’s problems, we liked to say, up there in the pod on the third floor on Old Connecticut Path. And we wondered indignantly why the Nobel Committee was not calling. Lorraine had mock outrage down to an ironic science. And she could portray a satiric buying-in to the absurdities in life, with a subtlety and pointedness that would put Stephen Colbert to shame. Her sense of humor was, indeed, impeccable. Perhaps most uniquely, she told incredibly comic stories without malice.

Lorraine was smart. She made good decisions. She made an especially good one, downright impeccable, in choosing her spouse. Andy was a great match for many reasons—besides just being a good guy. She loved him like crazy. They shared a lot of adventures, had common interests, and were both keenly funny. Most memorable just now, though, is how Andy accompanied Lorraine through the experience of cancer with sensitivity and strength and humor. And those of us who love Lorraine are so grateful to you Andy for being there every day and taking such good care of her.

So, Lorraine had cancer. But she did not become a cancer victim. She was an impeccable model of how to handle, even fight an illness and yet remain fully engaged in the rest of life. And doing that, she paved a way down a difficult road that we will all inevitably travel.

There are some lessons I aim to remember from how she lived. (I’ve distilled them to bullet points with examples in the spirit of research, her professional specialty…)

Go broad.
Make all you’ve done a part of you.
Live in the South Pacific. Sell cosmetics. Meditate. Learn the songs of cowboys, hired hands, and other wanderers. Get an MBA and Big Papi’s autograph.

Go deep.
Do things thoroughly.
Don’t just get a boat, take electronic instrumentation classes with the Power Squadron. Don’t just go to the doctor, explore every modality in pursuit of your health.

Be daring.
You’re tougher than you look.
Sail in the dark. Eat haggis. Ski black diamonds first thing in the morning.
Be caring.
Share your strength.
Mentor colleagues. Send gifts to nieces and nephews. Keep things beautiful.

Laugh often.
And help others laugh.
Stop the battle of Gettysburg. Collide with Jimmy Connors in a doorway. Be one of the “chicks” in the house. [You may have to ask some of her friends for explanations here.]

Stay open.
Embrace what the world offers.
Read The House of Seven Gables. Be an exceptional hostess. Go to a fife & drum muster.

Go broad. Go deep. Be daring. Be caring. Laugh often. Stay open.

And, mostly, let’s remember—and thank—Lorraine, for being an impeccable teacher.

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