Bittersweet: A tribute to Ursula Williams

Most of us have a handful of teachers or professors who have made a significant impact on us at one time or another during our academic careers. I certainly had a couple at Notre Dame, one of whom was none other than the wonderful, the fabulous, Mrs. Ursula Williams. I never took a class from Mrs. Williams, but she was my employer for three years during college, becoming a friend, a confidant, and a mentor. She ran the Language Resource Center (aka Language Lab) where I worked at ND, and boy, was it the greatest on-campus job in the world!

She had this personality that made you want to come to work. You wanted to do a good job for her, exceed her expectations - and even hang out with her after work, chit chatting over a few drinks. She was simply a wonderful person, and she taught me so much about being "me", helping me mature as an employee, a student, and as a person, without even saying a word. What a positive influence she was!

So, given the fact that I'm heading back to campus this week, I, of course, looked her up so I could say hello. That's when I found out the distressing news that she'd passed away from cancer several years back (2004.) Oh, Mrs. Williams! How I'll miss you! That incredible sense of humor, that jolly disposition, and the lessons you taught me will never be forgotten.

Now - the reason I'm choosing to write about my very dear friend Mrs. Williams, is that in contacting another mutual friend of ours, I've come to find out some very, I'll call it enlightening, news. It turns out that my mentor, my friend, my confidant, before being diagnosed with the cancer that took her life, was diagnosed with lupus. How about that!!!! I can't really express how that makes me feel...just so incredibly touched, you know? Just to know that I was in such good company encourages me to keep on keeping on. How can I not do everything I can to live well with lupus? I owe it to Mrs. W.

So here's to you, Mrs. Williams - I bet you would have shown me the ropes with this lupus thing, too. You appeared to be living well from the first moment I met you. Thank you for paving the way.


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