To Wanda Dear,
Once upon a time, I left my house with a prayer. I was a fresh out of grad school with boots on the ground trying to secure a teaching job. My phone had just been stolen as I was using pay phones to call schools and possible leads. I had gone to the library to print out directions because GPS was not an option. The summer heat was not my friend and I was beyond hot — inside and out. So on a day in June, I said “Lord, I need to work somewhere. Just tell me where to go.”
I drove straight to that store and took a deep breath before walking inside. It had been a couple of years since I had worked retail and frankly, I was not looking forward to it. “You’re allergies are going to freak out,” I muttered to myself as I walked through the store, “but you gotta do something.” Your frankness and your warmth sold me from the jump. I knew you were the real deal, but I didn’t imagine that you would become family.
When my sweet friend Nancy passed away, you showed me empathy by letting me work in the backroom so my tears could flow at will. When my former husband’s diabetic skin needed suggestions, you always made sure to keep me updated on the best products to soothe its agitations. I appreciated your humanity. And while I appreciate every supervisor I’ve worked for, I have comprehensively learned more from you than any corporate experience I ever had. I learned more than how to run a store. I learned how to use discernment during the hiring process, how to mix grace with facts, how to manage personalities, how to work that calculator and know your products like you know your name, how to provide a positive customer experience, and how not to be pissed off everyday. I would tell myself after a long day or a hard shift, “If Wanda can do it, I can do it.” We made it through holiday rushes, limited staffing, late night inventories, and ridiculous floor sets. Every time, I would tell myself that same sentence.
You know my family because you’re woven into our tapestry. My mother respects you and when my father and former husband were alive, so did they. Your heart is bigger than most people I’ve met and I am so grateful you’re in my world. Like I tell anyone that acts sideways – “I’ll fight you over that red-head. She’s family.”
Wanda, I pray that every single seed you have sown in the lives of others will come back to you 100-fold. I have no worries about your future because you’ve planted so richly. You know I have your back no matter what and you know I’m not the only one that will say the same thing. All of us are so much better because of your awesomeness.
I love you big,