I just idly googled the name of one of my first bosses and learned that she died more than a year ago. I’m so pissed at myself for not having stayed in better touch with her.
I worked for Shelley when I was an intern with the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union one summer in college. (The “look for the union label” folks. They merged with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union a few years later to form UNITE, which then merged with the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union.) I didn’t know much about unions, but they were offering a stipend for the summer, and I wanted a job that was interesting, but didn’t want to work for free.)
Shelley was with the legislative department (and yes, I did get to meet Evy Dubrow), but there wasn’t that much going on that summer , so she marched me all over the office introducing me to people and asking what they needed done. I did all sorts of things that summer – sorted postcards opposing NAFTA and supporting single payer health care by Congressional district, wrote a memo on union policies regarding sexual harassment, cataloged their lending library of VHS tapes, dug through the archives for old photos and made up a display on the history of the union. Shelley called me “Little Girl” but treated me like a grown-up, talked me through it when I got caught in some stupid office politics, and convinced me to take David Montgomery’s classes. The next year she moved to Washington State, but we stayed in touch. I visited her once — couldn’t believe that she trusted me to borrow her car to go off on my own — and met the dog that I had heard so much about. Somewhere in there she had a kidney transplant, but she always talked about how well “Nancy Kidney” was doing.
Over the year we lost touch, although we wrote or emailed a few times. A while back she moved to the Norfolk area, and I meant to go down and visit her some time but I never did. And now she’s dead, and the obituary says it’s from complications of diabetes. I guess Nancy wasn’t working any more. Damn.
The obituary says that she was 58 when she died last year. So she would have more or less my age now when I worked for her. I can’t decide if that seems older or younger than I’d have guessed.