Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Alexandra Clegg

Posted on: February 28, 2009

Alex was a small lady, but her death yesterday will leave a huge gap in the lives of many people.

Alex was a red-head with an elfin face, and a smile which could melt the ice caps. One of the things I most admired her for was her irrepressible spirit- she was a fighter and, despite her small stature and slight frame was probably stronger than anyone who will ever read this. You always knew where you stood with Alex. If she was sad, you knew about it, but when she was happy she made you feel like the world was a wonderful place.

Alex shared her family’s love of music. She would bring to work recordings of her brother playing classical piano pieces . On a much lower level, Alex shared my enjoyment of Neil Diamond, and occasionally we would listen to his music together.

She was much loved by all who met her.

And yes, she had severe learning and physical disabilities, but once you got to know her you forgot about that. She had a lot to struggle with in her short life, but despite these difficulties she had a presence which made you smile, and to value, rather than pity her.

To say that she will be missed by her loving family is too much of an understatement. They have fought like warriors for Alex, and having recently won a long battle to protect her rights her death at this time must seem particularly cruel.

I must also pay tribute to that band of heroes, my team of care staff. I never use the term ‘my staff’ because I always prefer to work in a more egalitarian way than the words suggest, but I use it now because I am proud to be associated with them. It is obviously not the pay that keeps people in Social Care jobs. It is getting to know people like Alex. Two of the staff were there at the hospital. Others waited for the inevitable news. It was my job to inform them and others over the phone that Alex had finally slipped away.

I am proud that my staff team know nothing of  ‘professional detachment.’ Professional, yes, but detached is only appropriate to jobs which don’t involve working with people. We become attached to the people we work with, we come to love them because we are all human beings and love is the cement that holds us together. And the ‘service’ we offer will carry on even now that Alex has gone, in that the value we ascribe to her will be felt in our grief and happy memories that will live with us forever.

And if there is another place, I am imagining among the traditionally blond angels, a little red head who is skipping around and singing, has eyes that can see across eternity and can eat everything on offer on the banquet table. That is my hope, and if ever a person deserved it, it was Alex.

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