2020 had only hours left but the hits just kept coming.
Recently our office, along with our community was hit by this most recent wave of Covid19. We had one member of our office staff who didn’t get it – one. Her name is Lupe and she puts hot sauce on everything she eats so we may have stumbled upon Corona’s Kryptonite. I’m going to start putting hot sauce on more of what I eat now because I do not want that virus again. Ever.
We each got the same virus but very different symptoms. Some got fevers, some didn’t. Some had head congestions, others the cough, others had stomach issues. I think everyone had the aches and fatigue. I didn’t have a fever and I escaped the gastro symptoms. I had no cough or chest congestion. So, half a dozen of us got wiped out at the same time, leaving Lupe (and her hot sauce) and Miss Anita alone in the office to fend for themselves.
Miss Anita was the first office employee brought in when the owner first started buying mobile home parks and managing them. She was responsible for doing everything – paying the maintenance guys, paying all the office bills, selling homes, getting contracts signed, sending out statements, collecting the rent. Now, when there were only a few parks that was doable. When it got to be a few more parks other people were brought into the office. She was already about 60 at that point and when others came on to make a staff she remained in more of a sales capacity and was the first point of contact, especially for folks looking to get into a mobile home. In January of 2015 we were the prospective tenants, and she was the one patiently explaining to me how the rent-to-own thing worked. She was the run who ran our application when I found a home I loved and wanted. She was the one who somehow got our application approved although neither of us had steady work (Marty was mostly doing short term construction and handyman gigs at the time and I wasn’t working at all), we didn’t have all the money up front for a down payment, and we had two large dogs (community rules have size restrictions on dogs and Coda was three times the approved size) and were from out of state. Yet, with all those strikes against us, I still remember hearing that sweet voice on the other end of the phone saying, “Sweetie, you were approved.”
Miss Anita made everyone feel at home, welcome and appreciated. She never rushed anyone. She’d answer the same dumb question over and over and over if that’s what it took. And she smiled while she was doing it. I rarely heard her utter an unkind word about anyone. There were more people than I can count who called her, “Momma”. Miss Anita lived quite a life. If you got her going she’d tell you stories and they were always adventures. She was a real bad-ass in her day! She had tattoos and battle scars and stories to go with every one of them. I won’t lie, the rest of us in that office are nice enough in general (most are a lot nicer than I’ll ever be) but Miss Anita was the one person NO ONE EVER had anything unpleasant to say about. I can’t count the number of tenants I’ve heard grumble, “I’ll just come back when Anita is here,” before stalking away.
It was about two weeks after we moved in that Marty started working for the company doing remodeling on the vacant homes. A few months after that I started working for them too, cleaning homes and getting them ready for tenants, doing some painting and then odd office duties. Two years ago I became full time in the office, handling evictions and payroll and such. I bring my dog, Bodie with me most days. Miss Anita was always the first to greet him with kisses and dog cookies. He’d happily spend the day throwing her High Fives for cookies and hearing her tell him what a good boy he is. She made everyone’s life just that more pleasant and stable. She never asked anyone for anything but if we ever saw her having a need, no matter what it was – we were taking care of it. She didn’t have a car for a while, so a couple of the other ladies in the office took turns driving her to and from work. We all live in the same neighborhood, anyway, so it was also a nice way to just spend time together. Her roof started leaking – we only knew that because we suddenly saw a tarp on the roof one day – and Marty went right up there to fix it for her. She was one of those people who you just wanted to help.
Unfortunately she was prone to lung issues and when she got Covid19, and then double pneumonia before Christmas… we were pretty sure there wasn’t going to be a good outcome. She was on a respirator for a few days, and it was doing 100 percent of the breathing for her, so her family decided to turn the machine off and let her go peacefully. That was December 30th. She’d just turned 65. The world is a little bit colder and drearier without our friend but the sadness we feel is because we miss her – let’s face it, she’s fine now. She’s having some well-deserved rest now, waiting on the day when we’ll get to heaven and have another company picnic.