With everything going on, a lot of things pass by without the recognition or time they deserve. It’s not bad. It just is. But I don’t want this to pass by without recognition. I want the world to know that it lost someone really special, and I want to tell you about her.
When I first started teaching, The Tiger (who was a high school and college teacher for many, many years) told me that the administrative assistants are some of a teacher’s best allies. They know pretty much everything that is going on, and they know how to get things done. What’s more is that they see the people–the teachers and the students–who are directly affected by administrative directives and changes. The administrative assistants see our faces, they learn who we are if we give them a chance, and they become some of our best advocates. They deal with the complications and legwork of making a department operate well, they run interference when angry students come marching in, they help students who are confused about their classes, they comfort teachers when they’re panicked about new changes happening, and much more. Yet, they are also some of the most underappreciated staff in a school.
I found out that one of my favorite administrative assistants passed away recently.
I called her Ms. Roxie, and she was a big personality encapsulated in a tiny frame. Her mostly gray hair didn’t ever seem to fit her youthful spirit. She reminded me of a softer Phyllis Diller–same huge smile, same crinkles around the eyes when she laughed, and same fun-loving soul. I only saw softness and sweetness when she dealt with people. She got things done when they needed to be done, and I don’t know how many times she helped me as a student and as a teacher.
When I confided some health issues to her since they impacted my class schedule as an instructor, she responded with kindness and understanding and made things work. When I gave her a Christmas basket each year, she hugged me sincerely. She was a genuinely good person.
When she recently retired, I remember being sad about it. She was Ms. Roxie. She had been there since I started my graduate school journey and probably even before. She was supposed to be there forever. Even when she was gone though, she was still remembered throughout the university. Heck, I was talking to a computer tech fella last semester, and I mentioned Ms. Roxie to him, although I can’t remember why. He said, “Roxie! Oh, I loved Roxie! She was awesome.” We both lamented that she had retired.
She didn’t get to enjoy much of her retirement though, and I wish that she had. Ms. Roxie deserved a good, fun retirement filled with sun bathing and fishing–like me, she was a fisherman, although she kept a lot of her fish and I never do (something that I don’t think I told her). I hope that she is able to enjoy retirement wherever she is now. If she’s in Heaven, and I’m pretty doggone sure that she made it there, I’m sure that it’s running smoothly. She wouldn’t let it be any other way.