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Mary and family in their garden,  
Ashwell, Herts, UK, April 2011
The final InSight of the year has given me an excuse (not that I really need one) to veer off my normal subject matter path and write something more personal.


In 2007 I wrote of my forthcoming (second) marriage (Risk, learn and forgive  ,  InSight 13).


In 2008, with the impact of the GFC looming in a very ugly way over the Australian economy, I wrote about the time I was fired (The Good News About Being Fired  , InSight 63).


In 2009 it was giving thanks to a number of people important to my life (What I was grateful for in 2009  , InSight 112).


Last year I turned back to the recruitment market (Agencies are far from dead: 2010 in review  , InSight 162).


To be frank, this year it is very hard to concentrate on anything too much outside my family.


One of my sisters, Mary, has been living with breast cancer since mid 2008. Earlier this month we received the devastating news that the cancer is now in her liver and bone marrow. Mary is having chemotherapy when her body is strong enough to withstand the treatment. Unfortunately this means her stays in hospital are more frequent. On 8 December this year, Mary spent her 44th birthday in hospital.


The toughest thing is that Mary lives with her husband and two children on a Hertfordshire farm, an hour or so north of London. Mum and Dad and one of my other sisters live in Hobart and my other sister lives near Geelong. For all of the family, the distance to the other side of the world has never felt as enormous as it does right now.


My nephew (nearly 6) and niece (4) are too young to fully understand what is going on and just know that ‘Mummy isn’t very well’. Thankfully, Mary’s infectious and caring personality has ensured that she has made plenty of friends in the small village (Ashwell) where she lives. These wonderful locals have all chipped in to help Sam, Mary’s husband, manage the many responsibilities that come with running a house and two young children. Their support is very important and is greatly appreciated by all of us, living on this side of the world.


Mary and her family were originally supposed to visit us here in Australia for the festive season, but her poor health has meant that the trip is now postponed. Her progress will determine when we see her.


Christmas truly is about family and it is easy to overlook that, in the mass of consumption and year-end celebrations.


Enjoy your family and let them know what they mean to you. Never take their presence or good health for granted because you never know what’s around the corner.

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Marian Smith

Hi Ross, I enjoy your musings on the recruitment industry. Its helpful to have a thoughtful commentator observing the shifts and changes that have occurred over the last 10 years – although I do subscribe to "the more things change the more they stay the same'. I have also been around for quite a long time and even pre-date you – Battles 1993. Although I have been in and out of the industry during this time [children and family etc] I still derive great satisfaction from the job both professionally and financially. I am very sorry to read about your sister Mary. I have found recruitment can be an all consuming business that can take over your life – if you let it. It often takes painful situations like yours to remind us how important it is to enjoy and value our relationships and families throughout the year as well as at Christmas. I wish you and your family well.

Jon Rice

Well said Ross and sorry to hear about such a tough situation. All the best for the Christmas break and have a great time with your family.

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