I reflect a lot. But sometimes it takes a special moment to bring me back and really make me remember and give a special, soulful, emotional credit to those who have helped shape me into the person that I am. I have mountains of words to speak of my parents and my childhood caretakers that gave me my roots, but as I grew, there were some very special people who sprouted my branches and I ran into one of them today.
As a child in high school I got a silly job as a pizza delivery girl on a resort. The pizza kitchen was inside a banquet kitchen for the whole resort and there was a very special General Manager, or should I say Micro Manager, who single handedly ran the entire operation. In those simple words I can say she taught me that if you want something done right you HAVE to do it yourself. And she did. As a nobody in the huge operation of the resort, I followed her lead and barely knew her but when the pizza operation came to an end for financial reasons, she called me into her office to see what I had. I didn’t know what was coming, but it was the start of my path. Looking back, I feel like she already knew what was in store for me but I was clueless. I got word that I was being laid off but Kely wanted to meet with me and I put on my best high school clothes and arrived at her office 15 minutes before said appointment because that’s what my mom taught me to do.
I sat. It was easier than I anticipated and she praised my year or so of dedication and explained that she wanted to keep me in the company. I knew nothing of what she was speaking but I accepted graciously because it was a job. I still had one. I learned that I was to be thrusted from dredges of the catering kitchen to the front line…the FRONT DESK. I’ve always aimed to please and in this moment I was scared but I accepted with a hearty smile and adjusted to my new schedule and my new duties.
I could write forever on my experiences of the Front Desk. It was the start of everything. I learned how to say yes to all guests even if I couldn’t give them what they wanted and that keeping heavy objects on the counter was a bad idea because they were possible flying missiles for the disgruntled douchebags that like to throw their weight (or whatever is within their reach) around. I was a tender-hearted, very naiive girl that cried the first time a guest yelled at me but Kely made it all better. She lead by example and taught me what it was to be a great manager, a great person, the kind of hard worker that everyone should strive to be.
When high school ended, I went to college to be a zookeeper and was volunteering at the local wildlife refuge. Kely took a special interest in all of my endeavors. She allowed me to use our resort’s facilities for fundraisers and to foster baby raccoons while I was at work. She entertained every avenue I wanted to delve into while teaching me how to do it the right way all the while. I think a lot of people experience the nurturing that she provided but never grow into the greater good that allows for the appreciation of it. She was always steadfast and professional, private and stoic, but always had a lesson to give with her actions. On random late nights, you could catch her just needing her Diet Coke and wanting desperately to unwind from the multiple weddings and group functions we had just expertly executed. I say we, but I really mean HER. She was the micro manager that made everything happen. And after all of that, when she FINALLY made it home, she would STILL come back in a heartbeat to balance my credit card machine if I was too retarded to figure it out myself.
At the time, she was a figure. A manager, like the president. Someone you take for granted because you assume they’re just doing their job without taking the moment to think about them as a person with a life. Kind of like how you grow up and realize your parents are people with feelings and lives and relationships. She spoke briefly about growing up without a mother when it was relevant, but it never hit me until I grew up and thought about it. She ultimately became the most wonderful mother to everyone she touched and taught. However private and stoic, she tenderly mothered all of us and taught with the greatest example ever. Her actions.
So I ran into her today at a professional function. I was proud to tell her who I have become, I was proud to tell her about this website that I’m blogging on. But I really didn’t get the chance to thank her. I took public speaking classes in college but they pale in comparison to the opportunity she gave me to construct and execute nature tours for our snowbirds. While working under her wing she allowed me to share every dream I had and live it. She let me build a family of ducks for our pond, plan the theme for the summer parties on the resort and incorporate wildlife awareness to all of our guests because that was what I believed in and through her allowance and nurturing of my dreams, she believed in me.
There are no words to thank someone for the immense fortune of what she gave me. She taught me how to be a professional, how to manage people but what that really means is how to manage life. Every professional decision I’ve made has been in the shadow of her light and I still thrive as the entrepreneur that she taught me to be. Every professional success I have, I attribute to her…and even when I feed the ducks, I think of her and how her guidance shaped me. I hope she knows what an incredible life she has lived and what an amazing example she has been. Life is good for so many reasons but it’s especially good because of Kely.