Farewell CFO

“There are no mistakes in the universe, no accidents.  Everything has a reason,”

says my friend Alice, an astrologer.

Another way to look at it is that every moment, every experience, has a seed of learning and growth in it.  The challenge for us is to find it.

I have just come from a funeral where I didn’t know anybody.  I was there in support of a friend, but we didn’t end up connecting.

I just sat in the back and watched.  The largest room in the funeral home was two thirds full.  There were so many tears, so much grief:  men and women, young and old.  This man had clearly touched a lot of people.  As the service unfolded, I got a sense of his story.

Steven (not his real name) was cut down by cancer at the age of fifty-five.  He was an accountant, the Chief Financial Officer of his company.  His boss, the Chief Executive Officer and company founder, was the first to speak.  He described Steven as the mature one, the one who could make the numbers fit, the company’s conscience.  He also spoke of Steven as one of the ones driving the company forward, having a solid grasp of where they could go and what they could achieve.

The second speaker represented Steven’s hobby, ballroom dancing.  She spoke of Steven and Grace, his partner and wife, their spirit, and Steven’s ambition to be the best.  Steven and Grace represented his adopted country at an international amateur competition and he was particularly proud to carry the flag in the opening ceremonies.

The third speaker was an old friend of Steven’s from Hong Kong.  He spoke of Steven’s other hobby, music, and the bands they had put together so long ago.  He also told a touching story about Steven’s first date with Grace, when he spent a week’s salary on a candle-lit dinner for two at a fancy restaurant, a large initial “investment” that had paid dividends for the rest of his life.

Steven was never awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.  I doubt that the Wall Street Journal will note his passing.  He will not even be a footnote in this nation’s history, yet he touched a lot of people deeply with his spirit, his willingness to help and his drive to be a better person.  The lesson for me, accountant, CFO, former amateur ballroom dancing enthusiast and amateur musician, was clear.

Maybe I should listen to a few more of the things my friend Alice says.

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