by Joy Loverde
What an incredible weekend! Over 300 of us former J. Walter Thompson advertising agency employees gathered together to mourn the closing of the Chicago JWT office.
Working at JWT in the 70’s formed the foundation of everything I know today about sales and marketing. The experience of working with the best in the industry also taught me how to write, and lessons learned back then about communicating with others are a key component of my book, The Complete Eldercare Planner today. From the get-go, asking the right questions consistently led to clear and simple solutions to reaching consumers. From selling Oscar Meyer hot dogs to humming Burger King slogans, my life during that time was a fast-paced think tank on how to talk and be effective with others and make sense of it all.
But what I remember most about this weekend was the people who came to the reunion gathering this weekend. They traveled from all parts of the world having left Chicago to pursue other interests and work opportunities. We were a room full of people longing for a connection that once was. In some cases fifty years had flashed by in the lives of those who had gathered and “catching up” was impossible in the few short hours we were together before we once again went our separate ways.
Every time I turned around there was someone I had not seen since 1978. It took my breath away. A twenty-year old was now approaching sixty – in an instant! Memories of who we were to each other as we worked side-by-side came rushing to my brain and heart. All night long it hardly felt as though my feet were touching ground. I didn’t want the night to end. I didn’t want to face the fact that I would never see these people again. I didn’t want to hear about those who had died. I didn’t want to be this grown up.
One of the JWT locals had a brunch the next morning. I was relieved! She gave all of us another opportunity to savor the experience of being together and live in the dream world one more day.
It’s been several days now since the JWT reunion. Everyone who came to the party is home now. And everyone is back to the present. I am sad, and so I do what I always do when I feel this way. I visit my elderly friends who are in their 80’s and 90’s. I tell them about the weekend. I cry when I talk about it. And they listen and smile. My elders are so wise when it comes to the sensitive subject of loss. They give me a hug before I walk out the door and then... suddenly everything is okay.
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