It was while we were visiting the "antique boutique" owned by my pastor's wife that I first coined the phrase, Uniquely Angie. My best friend of at least 15 years was down to see me after a ten year hiatus, and one of her requests was to visit the little shop. My pastor's wife came out of the same church in the Seattle area and was someone whom Angie looked up to as a young teenager when my pastor's wife was a young adult. So, having the common interest of antiques, collectables and home decor, as well as wanting to see this wonderful, influential lady of her past, we went in to her store.
While I was circling the shop with interest, they were visiting and reminiscing. And talking shop. Angie has an avid interest in feathers, flowers or anything vintage - particularly old jewelry which she uses to make retro purses and sells for profit. Seeing her in her element, I told her after we left that she really needed to consider opening her own little boutique back home when the American economy improves. And name it Uniquely Angie.
I first met Angie 23 years ago when I went to some special services hosted by her church. I remember hearing her play the organ and thinking she was the best organist I had ever heard. She also has a great singing voice, although she claims she doesn't sing, but proved otherwise this weekend by good naturedly agreeing to sing along in a trio. Several years after I first met her, I was again down in the Seattle area to be in the wedding of another friend. After my friend got married, I needed a place to stay for a couple more days until I went home, and that is when I first got to know Angie and the unique, wonderful woman that she is. And that was the beginning of our friendship. Over the next five or six years, I visited often. She was married and had two small boys. I was single. It was her mission to get me married off, preferably to someone in her home church.
She was my matron of honor ten years ago and was finally able to come to see me for the first time. Having a husband and young children, it was much easier for me to go there. It was a whirlwind trip of which I remember very little - I was in my premarital wedding fog - but we did have a few days of late night, uninterrupted talks.
Ten years later, she returned for her second visit. Having older, independent sons made that much easier this time.
I guess we're all unique. Somewhat. But Angie is UNIQUE. Being half Italian, she is passionate about everything. She loves people, particularly youth. She is extremely gullible - you can pretty much get her to believe anything if you're a good enough liar. She is very creative. She is a wonderful cook and homemaker. She is the only woman I've ever met that can cook a wonderful meal, clean up, wash the floor under the table several times a day, keep her house neat as pin even when her two boys were little, and never stop talking while doing it. She is chronically late for everything. She is side splittingly funny and has no clue why - which is part of her charm. She is extremely clutsy - tripping going up the steps at my wedding rehearsal will always be one of my fondest memories. And, she is definitely opinionated.
She is the best, most loyal friend a person could ever have.
While she was here, my mom, dad and grandma spent time with Angie, at Angie's request. Angie lost her mom when she was just 13 years old to lung cancer. Her dad is an alcoholic; my dad is an alcoholic. She really connects to my family. She loves my mother, relates to my dad and thinks my grandma is the most classy senior she's ever met. She sat at the table, having a little "chat" with my dad with all of her Italian passion, letting him know how important family is and that he should not go to work out of the country (as my dad has been doing). My dad told my grandma the next day that Angie was right, he really shouldn't go, cementing the adoration my grandma has for Angie. Angie cried when she hugged my mom goodbye.
Angie has this down-to-earth quality about her that draws people in and that's....uniquely Angie. A person knows within a very short time that she is real and that she is genuinely interested in what you have to say.
My kids adored her, evidenced by the fact that they were picking dandelions for her the first morning she was here. In fact, Hannah loves her so much that on the last night of her sleeping on the floor in her brother's room, she commented on that fact. I replied back that she must be excited to get her bedroom back, to which she replied that, "No, actually, I would be happy to sleep here if only Angie didn't have to go home", and then promptly started crying.
And so, my wonderful, unique Angie, I really am going to miss having you here. You are a treasure of a friend. Someone who strives to see the good in people. Someone who loves passionately. Someone who has no idea of your worth and charm, which only adds to it. Someone who very few can't love, flaws and all. Because, dear friend, you are real, you are kind, and you are honest.
You are Uniquely Angie.