The Most Rewarding Moment

Several years ago, I was a Client Trainer for GBS Communications/TELUS. During my last week in that position, I had an incredibly rewarding experience. I posted the following on my now-defunct personal blog soon after:

I had a training session with a client who had purchased a new iPhone. I noticed from his account information that the phone was for his construction business. I always like to tailor the training to the clients needs and interests, especially if they own their own business as there are many ways a smartphone can help in that regard. Halfway through the session, I asked him if he still worked on the “front lines” or if he was in more of a management position.

He told me he ran the company. Four years ago he realized family is what is most important and that he decided he needed to be home more and have a better life/work balance.

“That’s something my daughter taught me. She passed away four years ago.”

I told him I was sorry to hear, and asked him about her and how she died.

“She was eighteen years old. She had a heart defect.”

He went on to tell me that they had filed a medical malpractice suit because they had known what was wrong with her for some time, but the doctors ignored them. The main doctor complained about parents doing self-diagnosis, and told them that the condition they thought she had was very rare and that they shouldn’t worry about it. She was fine.

It came out in court that tests the doctors eventually begrudgingly ran did show she was a candidate for the condition, but that these test results were left unread by some and ignored by others. There was a settlement in the end, but the whole process was exhausting and none of it would bring her back.

He pulled out a photo and slid it across my desk.

“I always have to show everyone her picture.”

I stared at the snapshot of a beautiful girl whose life was cut short. I looked across my desk at a man still hurting, a man who would be haunted by the circumstances of her death for the rest of his life.

He was also a man who was immensely proud of his daughter, and one who was now completely committed to his family. We agreed that it sometimes takes these horrible happenings for us to wake up and realize what is important in life.

We got back on track and I passed him my laptop so that he could sign in to his webmail. We needed to get some server information to set up the e-mail on his iPhone.

While he was doing this, I stood the tiny photo up against a book and took a picture with his iPhone. It was tough with the glare from the overhead fluorescent lighting, but I did manage to get a nice shot of the weathered photograph.

I set the photo to be his lock screen and background. Once he was finished on the laptop, I slide the phone back across the table and told him what I had done.

“Now you have a digital copy. And you’ll see her every time you turn the phone on.”

His eyes welled with tears. He took a deep breath and looked up at me. He took another breath. His voice was shaky.

“Thank you. You don’t know how much that means to me.”

He smiled and wiped his eyes. He paused again to compose himself.

“That makes my day. Thank you.”

I smiled and fought back tears of my own.

It was a small gesture, and one that most people probably take for granted. But it meant the world to him, and I was more than happy to help.

It made my day, too.


Two comments on that post made me smile. One from the girl’s mother and another from her aunt:


Hi Matt,


My husband is the man you write of, and that evening he came home and told a story of a wonderful caring man who helped him with his phone that day.


Men have very little opportunity to talk about their grief and I thank you for giving him not only the opportunity to do so, but your time; you really listened.


Since my daughter’s death, I look at people differently and give them a little room, as you never know what battles someone might be fighting that day. In Victorian times people would wear black arm-bands to signify their grief. Perhaps this isn’t such a bad idea…


Once again, Matt, thank you, and know that each time he looks at Jess’ pic on his phone, he will think of you and your kindness.


Jess’ Mom, now and forever





That beautiful girl who’s life was cut too short – she is my niece. Your thoughtful and caring gesture will be remembered by her father for many years to come, as well as the rest of her family.


I am out in BC, and this blog was sent to my parents,from my sister, Jess’s mom. Your sole action has reached across the country. For that I am grateful. Thank you.


As Jess would say – Dare to Dream –


Jess’s aunt, now and forever


About Matt

My name is Matt. I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. I am an educator, a photographer, and a lover of all things technology. Check out the About page for more information.

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