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I just stopped in to Connie's last Thursday before I had to go out of town. I knew Norm was getting bad but I really thought he would still be with us when I got back from Atlanta. I was very upset to hear he passed away. I will miss him forever.
I first met Norm and Connie 20 years ago. I thought I needed a job as our first son was going off to college. Working for Norm and Connie seemed like a perfect fit for me. I could work when the kids were in school. Occasionally, I brought a kid to work with me when I needed to work and they didn't feel good. They also gave 3 of my boys summer jobs. That was a great way to get my kid's feet wet working. They cut mats, shipped orders, stamped post cards, laid a brick walk way, and even dug up old asphalt with a Bob cat. Connie and Norm knew my kids and I knew their kids. I felt more like family than an employee.
I got to see Norm at work and learned that he was a perfectionist. If Norm's name was on the product, he wanted it to be perfect. He had a great sense of color and a great eye for photography. I wanted to learn how to hand color photographs. Norm would tell me what I was doing wrong. I am sure I pestered him many times but he took the time to look over my work and tell me what I was doing wrong. I am so thankful that I had the chance to try it. I enjoyed helping him at shows or in the studio. I matted and framed his photos in the studio. When he decided to leave the business I was still in and out of their house. I hated to see my job end but I understood when he retired.
Norm loved cats. They were his constant companions. He treated his cats like they were royalty. One of Norm's cats was named Shadow. Shadow showed up in the basement the first day I came to work. Then, one day Bea showed up. It seemed like the second Bea walked up to the door Norm just was drawn to the other side of the door to find her. Of course, Norm wholeheartedly invited Bea to live with them. Norm could be gruff at times. But, when it concerned those cats, Norm turned into a puppy dog. I loved Norm's cats, too. They would lay on my work table and watch me work. I took care of them when Norm and Connie were off doing shows. Norm trusted me with his precious cats. So many times we had little talks about our cats and that was something we shared together. That meant a lot to me.
Norm reminded me of my dad in many ways. I think that is one of the things that drew me to him. He felt like family. I came to think of him as a part of my family. I took him black raspberry pie. I took him fresh catnip for his cats. And he appreciated anything I did for him. Norm seemed so strong and tough when I first came to work for him. It has been hard to watch him grow weak and frail and to have to depend on anyone. But, I was glad when there was something he needed me to do. I was honored when he asked me for help because it let me know that he had become fond of me, too. You have no idea what that meant to me. I can't imagine that he is gone. It is just too hard to wrap my head around that. I know I am going to have a very hard time when I go over to the house just knowing that he won't be there. Rest in peace Norm. You were truly one of a kind.
I remember all this Jacki. That black raspberry pie you brought to us last Spring was divine and he really appreciated it! I find it interesting how much our lives have seemed to mirror each others. But I know for certain, he appreciated you. Your tenacity and your strength. And so do I.
Well said, Jacki...I enjoyed getting to know Norm through your eyes as I only had a couple of occasions to spend time with him. Thanks for this nice remembrance.
Here is Norm's obituary: http://wtvbam.com/blogs/obituaries-blog-wtvb/67/obituary-norm-darwish/
My condolences, Connie. In the midst of a busy season, I haven't kept up with the news of your husband's passing. He obviously lived a rich life and is truly a beloved soul. May he rest in peace.