The Story of Our Logo

The Story of Our Logo

1000 Cranes, 1000 Memories: The PWC Lending Library Logo

by Shannon Cassidy, daughter of Patty Walsh-Cassidy

When I was in school, I read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, a true story about a young girl who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. She developed leukemia as a result of the bomb's radiation, and tried to fold a thousand origami cranes as an expression of her wish to survive. After reading the story, I was enthralled by the idea of one day making 1,000 cranes. Years later, when 1,000 multi-colored cranes were hung from a UMass lobby to raise awareness for breast cancer, I was captivated by their simple elegance and beauty, and I thought how amazing it would be if everyone who loved and cared for my mom made cranes for her. At that point, my mother's cancer had returned for a second time, and with a diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer, the odds were not in her favor. I believed if we made 1,000 cranes, she could then make the same wish Sadako had dreamed of making: to live. In reality, the logistics of such a project overwhelmed me, and soon the idea was lost.

Almost exactly a year later, my mom sat our close family down to say that her cancer had spread to her brain and she had only a little time left to live. We all sat not moving, silent, in complete despair, doing nothing. I remember thinking, "We have to do something; we can't just sit here waiting for her to die." To the astonishment of everyone, I announced, "We're going to make 1,000 origami cranes so she can get a wish." After a quick stop at Walmart for paper and over an hour spent on YouTube learning how to fold the first crane, the mission began.

We started a countdown and word spread quickly. Friends from around the world shipped us boxes of cranes or dropped them off at our doorstep. At the places she worked, my mom's colleagues got together folding cranes and sharing favorite stories about her life. My vision was coming true.

I was folding the 997th crane when my uncle came to tell me she was dying. Everyone at her bedside made one fold to complete the thousandth crane. My wish was that she would be in peace and no longer in pain. We buried that crane with her. By the time of her funeral, we had 1,558 cranes. They covered the walls of the house and the funeral parlor and there were still enough for everybody to take one home to remember her by. Inscribed on the bottom of each crane were the initials of the person who made it and the name they had given their crane.  Each one was made by someone who loved her; each was a symbol of hope.

Greek and Roman myths portray the dance of cranes as a love of joy and a celebration of life. To the Japanese, the crane is the "bird of happiness." The value of my mother's life is immeasurable, but our cranes truly became a celebration of my mom's life and of the happiness she brought to her family and her students.

The lending library is a project she dreamed of pursuing, for all the ways that it could create lifelong possibilities for people by opening the doors to the world of assistive technology. The power to wish, fulfillment of dreams -- the crane lives on as a symbol of these things. It seemed a fitting choice as the logo for the assistive technology lending library she hoped one day to make, the library that bears her name.