I have known for a long time that at some point I would have to sit down and write about Mame. When someone is a fulcrum on the direction of your life, it is impossible to avoid that person when discussing who you are because that person is such a large piece of that puzzle.
I met Mame while working for then Governor Mark Warner as he explored running for president back in 2006. Mr. Warner has since gone on to be elected to Senator in Virginia. The day that I got pulled into Mame's vortex, I was working on some godawful general database editing that interns are often assigned until a real project comes around. A bubbly and beautiful lady walked into the intern bullpen (this makes it sound fancy, it was really just a room crammed with computers and paper and unpaid college kids) and asked the guy sitting next to me if he had time for a project. He begged off, saying he already had too much to do for the policy shop.
I CAN HELP! (oh, please, dear baby jesus, save me from this data entry.)
That women was Kathy Lash, one of Mame's closest friends and longtime colleagues. Kathy and Mame took me under their wing that summer and I worked hard for them. When the end of the summer came, Mame asked me to stay and work for the campaign, something I had always dreamed of since cutting my teeth on the West Wing. I declined, knowing my mother would murder me in my sleep if I did not finish my college degree. I promised to return after my final semester in December.
That fall, Mark Warner decided not to run for president. But, Mame was a train of productivity that wouldn't stop. She called me the week before I graduated from college and offered me a job as her assistant in her new firm, The Reiley Group.
Sure, we raised millions of dollars for democrats, threw lavish parties and executed many tips for VIP clients. Sure, we drank lovely wine and ate well. But Mame taught me how to be both a professional and a person. She was fiercely loyal to those who she worked for and employed. "Dance with the one who brung ya." She never missed an opportunity to reward hard work.
Mame bought my wedding dress and then took me out for champagne and cheeseburgers afterwards.
Just over two years ago, we lost Mame to breast cancer. It was devastating to so many of us who loved and worked for her. Honestly, we all worked for her. When she called, you answered. When she beckoned, you showed up.
Next week, I am going to return to the DNCC Women's Caucus since I worked for her in Denver 2008. I will wear the fresh water pearls she gave me for my wedding (fresh water because that is what Jackie Kennedy wore exclusively) and the Ann Hand brooch she gave me as a goodbye gift when I moved from DC to PA. I will obviously also drink some bubbly and miss her fiercely.
I think about her often but especially when Hillary Clinton has a good day. Mame adored Hillary. I wish more than anything to hear what she thinks about this entire election. I know she is still with me.
Mame, I miss you so much. I love you and am so grateful for all you did to polish me into the woman I have become. I am also so grateful for all of the crazy and lovely people you brought into my life.