Barrington nutritionist Anna Caswell died yesterday as a result of her decision to keep her work life separate from her personal life by not eating. She was 47.
Friends of Caswell say that she was always wary of devoting too much time to her career. “Anna wanted balance, which was hard to find in her line of work,” said neighbor David Liston. “Her peers always had their minds on nutrition: If they weren’t attending to their clients’ dietary needs, they were attending to their own dietary needs, in the sense of digesting and metabolizing food.”
Though she strived to succeed as a nutritionist, Caswell would not allow her life to take a back seat to her profession. “People would say that by refusing to take her work home with her, she was letting a golden opportunity slip away,” said Caswell’s friend Georgia White. “They’d tell her that she could have a bigger paycheck, a bigger office, a bigger sandwich, a sandwich, a Ritz Cracker. But Anna just wasn’t interested in those things.”
Caswell was particularly insistent on separating her professional life from her most important duty: being a mother to her three children. “Anna gave her kids her undivided attention. When she was with them, she didn’t want to be reminded of work,” remembered babysitter Jessica Oberlin. “She refused to feed them and if they said they were hungry, she spanked them.”
Continued Oberlin, “There was absolutely no talk of food at the dinner table. Hell, there was no food at the dinner table! There was no food in her house, nor were there tables.”
Caswell upheld her commitment to leading a life that did not revolve around her work even as her health worsened. “She remained dedicated to keeping her personal time sacred,” remembered fellow nutritionist Bill Rohan. “Even if that meant she had to spend a good deal of that time lying in a hospital bed with a IV-food drip hooked up to her wrist, completely unconscious or else generally miserable.”
Eventually, the quality of her work began to suffer as a result of her search for balance. “Anna became a poor nutritionist because she lost sight of her priorities,” said Don Lamb, owner of East Side Health Wellness and Caswell’s employer up until her passing. “The most fundamental of these priorities was, of course, to provide her body with the nourishment it needed to sustain life. But she also could’ve spent a bit more time organizing her patient histories and tidying up her office because, boy, that place was a mess.”
Caswell is scheduled to be interred this Saturday with the help of a gravedigger who keeps his work and personal lives separate by choosing not to make holes in the ground and put dead people into them on his day off.