Have you ever come across a live bird, say a duck or a swan, just randomly resting on your desk upon arriving at the office one morning? Well, probably not. But chances are you may have found another bird of a rather distinct species. The paper crane or Orizuru may have shown up on your desk here at Cisco.

I’m sure you’ve wondered way or how – and this is that story.

Stemming from Japanese culture, origami is an art form that involves the intricate folding of paper into different objects. The paper crane happens to be the most famous example of this form of art. Cranes themselves are said to signify good fortune and longevity, and are often referred to as the bird of happiness. There also exists a tradition in where a person who folds one thousand paper cranes, may be granted a wish.

While the tradition of folding paper cranes has been around for a long while, my spin on this became more of a tribute to my younger sister, Melanie.

My sister was a loving, friendly, and kind person with a side of spunk. She was headstrong, but never with any malicious intent. Growing up with her, I’d often found myself with the family attending one of her many activities – from softball to baton twirling. While I would not always find any of these activities amusing, looking back now these are the memories that I have learned to cherish.

In 2012, my sister’s health started declining with bouts of fevers and body aches. After two years of countless hospital visits with inconclusive results, doctors finally diagnosed her with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a type of blood cancer. While the grave diagnosis shook the entire family, she was determined and persevered through the initial rounds of chemotherapy. She improved, and was declared to be in remission and was eventually able to return home after a long hospital stay.

Unfortunately, not too many months after, she started feeling ill again and we learned that the cancer had returned. A second run of chemo proved to be ineffective and alternatives had to be explored, but my sister’s health took a turn for the worse before an alternative option could be found.

It was a very cold beginning to the holiday season that year when the doctors presumed she only had a few days left. Family poured in from all parts of the country to provide warm support. Her longtime boyfriend proposed to her, and with an uplifted spirit, she agreed to his proposal.

With the help of an awesome hospital staff and supportive family, an impromptu wedding was held in less than 2 days. The miraculous strength my sister demonstrated to walk down the aisle in her frail state had all of us all floored. Vows were exchanged and the traditional ceremony carried on as any normal wedding would with the bride and groom declaring their union and sharing the joyous occasion – no matter what the odds against them might be.

Not long after the holidays, my sister passed away. And since January 2016, her memory has lived on in those she touched deeply. My tribute and remembrance to her is instilled in every crane I’ve ever folded since then.

My original take on the tradition was to fold a thousand cranes wishing for my sister’s health to return and at the same time distribute the folded happiness across an audience a Cisco. My plan was to create a sort of collage to from snapshots of the cranes taken across the various workspaces I found interesting to show my sister since she lived across the country. While I couldn’t fulfill the deed while she was still here, I wanted to keep going in her memory and complete the project. So, one thousand paper cranes with various designs, colors, and each with a unique number scattered across over 30 Cisco buildings at the San Jose campus – continues on. At the time of this writing, my count stands at 1179 with many more on the way.

Life is too short to not be happy during your workday so why not spread that through a very universal gesture? While most of my deliveries occur during off-hours when no one is around, I hope that my fellow employees will get some positive vibes from the random act of kindness that is bestowed upon them when they see the bird of happiness.

For those Cisconians out there reading this, I challenge you to do something out of the ordinary for your fellow peers that may just brighten up their day, no matter how small the gesture, even a smile will do. I promise you’ll feel rewarded!


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Randy Aybar

Software Engineer