Angie didn't know it, but she and I got off to a rough start. It was 1994. I was the new administrative assistant in Client Services, and Angie was a volunteer who wanted to help out by working the front desk. She had switchboard experience, and in fact had worked for the phone company for years. But she hadn't counted on the madness of our front desk: a constant stream of callers, many in distress, many of whom didn't speak English, and the job of buzzing people into the building - people who didn't appreciate even the slightest delay. It took Angie a while to get the hang of it all. A volunteer's learning curve isn't typically my business, except for the day Angie paged me for a phone call. "Crotchie... telephone call... Crotchie... you have a phone call..." I was standing in the upstairs hallway as laughter erupted from every direction. It was like being in high school all over again. I gradually got over the embarrassment, but the nickname stuck.
Even so, it wasn't long before Angie and I were friends. I think I must have reminded her of her son in some way, because she quickly took to mothering. Angie always took a real interest in my life and, just like a mom, she offered me advice, asked uncomfortably personal questions, and always had time to talk. She even invited me to her home for dinner occasionally, and I treasure the memory of sitting on a stool in her kitchen, watching her stir the spaghetti sauce and listening to her talk.
Time passed. After I transferred out of Client Services I saw Angie less often, and though she was devoting more and more time to her grandchildren, she was always faithful to her volunteer commitment. I tried to catch her before or after her shift rather than distract her from the work she took so seriously as a labor of love. I also saw her, along with her friends and family, at our fundraising events, and that's how I loved to see her: happy and proud to introduce two very different parts of her life to each other.
Angie died today. I thank God I got to know her.