I had some very sad news two weeks ago. My former boss and very good friend, Joyce passed away. She was only 63. She had been diagnosed with Stage four lung cancer almost 10 years ago. She was able to fight through all of the treatments and the pain for a very long time. Now she is with God and at rest. I do believe that. So, my sadness is for me, and her family, not her. I will miss her even though over the past several years I was able to see her only sporadically.
Joyce was one of the most gifted strategic thinkers I have ever had the pleasure of working with. I credit her with setting up the framework for much of what is going on with commercial space at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) today. You see, she was the person who came in to develop the office that has been responsible for establishing the various agreements and policies that has led to the tremendous increase in the use of NASA facilities and land by the commercial space industry at KSC. Her vision and leadership skills were key on what we did to entice those companies to settle there.
So, what, you are asking, does all of this have to do with Grace? It’s like this. When the office was first established, I was one of the first members of the group. But I was not in a good place emotionally. I, for various reasons, was feeling that management had not treated me well and that my career was in the dumpster. So, when Joyce was brought in to lead the office, I, quite frankly, treated her very badly. I took all my frustration out on her. Of course, she didn’t deserve any of that and was confused as to my behavior. But she extended a tremendous amount of Grace to me. How? By simply letting me get it out of my system. As we talked about it later, she was not sure what was going on with me at the time but knew that I had something to offer the organization and was willing to let me work through whatever my issues were. So, she waited me out.
Ultimately, I realized that it was all my problem, and I went to her and told her that. I walked into her office one Monday morning and asked if she had a few minutes. She allowed that she did, but it was clear that she thought that some new issue was coming her way. When I told her that all the behavior, I was displaying was not her fault and that I would be changing my attitude and be more supportive of her, she again extended Grace. She listened and told me that would be welcome. Of course, she was skeptical. I mean, I had been pretty obnoxious from the start of her appointment there. But she again, waited me out.
In the end, we became fast friends. Had she not been so kind and accepting of me, I would have lost the opportunity to get to know her and to learn from her. Her patience and kindness, her Grace, allowed for all of that to happen.
I will always cherish the time I had with Joyce. She was a shining star in my life. And demonstrated again to me that when Grace is offered to you, grab it before it goes away.
Rest in peace my good and fast friend.