by Felipe Criado-Boado, EAA President
Since I was elected EAA president in September 2015, I served the Association in different ways and represent its 2500 members at different events. I feel privileged and extremely grateful for everything I have done, and continue to do, to the best of my ability. But in July 24 this honor was tinged with the most profound sense of sadness and grief, as I had to represent the EAA at the remembrance service for Karen Hessing-Waugh, our beloved Secretary. Karen passed away after a short illness. The service was an opportunity to remember her professional dedication, her positive attitude, and overall her characteristic smiling. We had the privilege of having Karen on board in one of the positions of greatest responsibility in the EAA, to handle this extensive and very special community of individuals. The service to remember Karen took place in her home town, Amersfoort, near Amsterdam, in the presence of her family, colleagues and friends. It was a beautiful ceremony on what was a truly sad day, but still marked with a sense of joy, as the presence of Karen was felt there and it gave all of us a sense of friendship, collegiality and connection. Here are the words that were said in behalf of the EAA Executive Board and the entire EAA.
My name is Felipe Criado-Boado. I am the president of the EAA. And I am here, together with Margaret Gowen, our Treasurer, to represent the entire Association and its 2500 members at this service of remembrance of Karen; and particularly to represent the Executive Board of the EAA and its Secretariat. Karen was the EAA Secretary, that is, the second person on top of the organization. Therefore, I am here to directly address you, Wilfried (husband), Madeleine, William and Tristan (children), Josephine, Stuart and Robert (family), and make you aware of the sort of memory we have of Karen.
These all are good remembrances that not only will reassure you but will help to fill her absence with her memory, making her visible in a different but powerful way. Throughout the last week, we have received many messages of condolences for Karen with the special request of relaying them to the family. I will try to thread with some of them a depiction of what Karen means for us.
Karen passing away is a terrible loss, on many different levels. News about her death was devastating and almost unbelievable for many. The very first reaction is that it is something completely unexpected and absolutely untimely. But then, two further reactions came to all of us.
The first main memory is of her positive and professional engagement. Karen was a devoted professional with a tremendous personality. Many say that Karen will be truly missed because she was one of the anchors of the EAA. This is true. Margaret and I (as any other members in the Board) can give testimony of the strong dedication of Karen. She worked hard for the EAA, and we must acknowledge her capability. This is because these quite extensive duties were secondly to her primary dedication to her company and colleagues in Vestigia, and her devotion to her family.
A second memory and perhaps the strongest image comes to all of us, is that Karen was a warm hearted and highly personable individual, full of life, with great humour and a great friend. And overall, her smile is what comes immediately to mind when remembering Karen. Her smiling, her English-Dutch moulded empathy that allowed her to be beside many of us in the difficult moments. I have here some personal details. I cannot forget Karen organizing for me a surprise birthday´s party when she knew that I would be 56 in the Annual Dinner that closed our 2016 Annual Meeting in Vilnius. And Margaret will not forget also the strong support that Karen gave to her in a difficult moment when Margaret had her own health troubles. Karen was always there, being supportive in a friendly and efficiency way. This speaks of her generosity and her humanity. As it also speaks of her capacity, you all know (I am sure), to speak, and speak and speak when she felt relaxed and comfortable.
Since I was elected EAA president in September 2015, I have had the honor to serve the Association in many different ways and represent its 2500 members in many different events. Whatever I did, and I do, for the EAA, makes me feel privileged and thankful for this honor. But today this honor comes to me with a deepest sense of sadness and grief, because I am here, together with Margaret, representing the EAA in this service.
It is cruel to lose her, to lose her professional dedication, to lose her positive mood and above all to lose her smile. We had the privilege of having Karen on board, taking on the highest responsibilities to handle the big and very special community of persons who comprise the EAA. We will miss her. Because of that, we will always remember her. We are honored to be here at this service our opportunity to pay our best tribute to her. We are happy to stand beside her family, friends and colleagues and to represent our colleagues. The ceremony here strengthens our links and creates new and stronger links. This feeling of interwoven threads creates an occasion where we can celebrate her great contribution to our lives. Amidst these very sad days, this is a important event because the presence of Karen is felt here and it gives all of us a new sense of friendship, collegiality and connection.
Margaret and I have made the long journey here today in sadness. In our own way, we have walked a ´camino´ from different western land ends of Europe. I come from Santiago de Compostela and Margaret came from Cork, a far corner of Ireland. We both are persons of the West, where the land meets the ocean, Europe ends and was felt for many centuries that World and everything finished. We both belong to the Atlantic fringe, which in the old Celtic mythologies was the coast of the death and eternity. We both know the privilege of experiencing a very special bright light and the vast expanse of the seas. You would not believe the magic of the Atlantic light in the sunset, when the sun meets a clean ocean in a clear atmosphere. A bright, clear and clean light. A sunset light that means something because it promises that there will be a tomorrow. This is the meaning of the very corners of Europe to what we belong: where everything ends, is known that everything starts. It is with this feeling that we say good bye and welcome to Karen, because now, here, she is not absent any more but becomes memory. Her memory shines, and because it shines, it will be with us, with you, forever. I am not being rhetoric. The family will remember Karen. But you, the family, must remember that the EAA will also remember her and this is the magic of the sort of Association that, as ours, makes a community: whoever was between us, will walk with us forever. And this is mainly true for the sort of person that, between us, Karen was.