Dear Members,
My Diane story:
When I retired after 31 years in education, I was a broken person. My husband predicted I would take a full year for me to heal and find myself again. But I was fortunate enough to meet someone who started me on the path of self-healing - Diane Arrants.
I had a fantasy that in retirement I would work in an upscale thrift store that raised money for a cause. Really, I had this dream after visiting such a store in Colorado. So, of course I was thrilled when I discovered Bizarre Bazaar. I immediately joined Community Assistance League so I could volunteer. I was so excited but so scared because I would have to interact with people.
That first day I gave myself a pep talk in order to actually show up. Upon arriving at Bizarre Bazaar, I learn that only two of us were working that morning: Diane and myself. She gave one look and asked if I could a run a register as she needed to work “in the back”. She explained generally the layout of the store, how the register worked, that I could feel free to change anything in the store as long as I understood that someone could come in behind and also change it up. For four hours I covered the front of the store by myself.
Then Diane did a magical thing. As the shift was ending, she asked me if I was coming back and would I work her Friday shifts.  She told me I was bright, pleasant, and learned quickly. I was an asset. Wow, someone valued me instead of beating me up. I left that day feeling REALLY good about the experience and myself. I have told this story many times to Diane as I was, and continue to be, grateful for her words.
Diane became a special friend. She taught me Mexican Train and Mahjong. We learned to quilt together and team up to teach art in a sixth-grade class. She invited me to join her in exercise class—she was much stronger than I was. Diane could be gruff, but she was always supportive, creative, and hard working. Though she would deny it, she was a mentor to me.
I still talk to Diane in my head. When I get into interesting situations, I ask myself: What Would Diane Do? I guess, whether she knows it or not, she is still mentoring me.
I miss you Big Cheese.
Toni Sommer