When you read through all that is written about Nan Cavarretta or listen to all the reminiscences and tales told, you’re likely to discover that although each account is distinctly personal and eloquent, taken together they’re all quite similar. The reason is pretty simple: Nan’s virtues, skills, ethics, boundless enthusiasm and way above all her genuine caring for others reflected an utterly decent human being whose sterling character, wrapped round a magnetic personality, is engraved in the heartfelt thoughts of almost every person she ever met.
If you had a personal issue, she was there in spades to support you and to give you her best perspective. If you were a rookie, she offered you the vision that you could and would be a professional who could march with the best. If you were a tiny bit timid, she would bolster your confidence and boost your perception that working hard, doing your best and challenging yourself would built
your character and your happiness. If you were young, she could cheerily play on your turf; if you were older, you witnessed how a heady mix of purpose and determination, humor and gusto would help bring about
a happier you, better outcomes and encouragement of the lives of those under your umbrella.
If you were new, she would teach; if you were seasoned, she would guide and serve as your honest reflection. She taught by example how to multi-task, to work enthusiastically, to learn, to deal with a not so good very bad day. She urged you to relish what you achieve, who you meet and how to rise above routine to become a complete person. Nan never gave up on anybody.
As your boss, she was Nannie but a taskmaster nonetheless. Her job was to help you grow. As a colleague, she was a full partner in your collective undertaking. As a friend she was peerless. As a human being, she brought her ethics and values to bear in a way that influenced, shaped, attracted, motivated and drew even her most professional and expert colleagues into league with her because she had a fervent work ethic coupled with a love for her fellow human beings that was genuine, selfless and totally compelling.
Our collective stories are more or less all the same – we have had among us someone whose touch leaves a lasting influence on us if we let it. What could be a better inscription: to have lived well and decently, to have loved, to have cared, to have taught, to have reflected the best that is in us, to have made the best of every day and to have created a benchmark for us to measure ourselves. Our Nan was simply a terrific girl.
This is who we’ve had in our lives. This is who we experienced and learned from. Wouldn’t you think that leaving this kind of mark is what we’re all supposed to reach for? That is her legacy. Lucky us.
Joel K. Slater