Tuesday, February 26, 2013

“If I….”

This is a special poem from Barbie Angell, as it’s her tribute to a very special friend who passed away recently. Please take the time to read Barbie’s remarks after the poem, because those also contain a touching tribute

If I….

If I don’t believe your voice ever spoke,
will your words fall out of my mind?
If I don’t look past all the mirrors and smoke,
will the secrets stay safely behind?

I can’t keep you here.
I can’t let you go.
I can’t stay asleep or awake.
My tears are half-empty when they aren’t half-full,
my voice was the first thing to break –

You gave me the world without even a pause,
you put it right into my hands.
You were not quite a father but more than a friend,
now I no longer know where I stand.

Because all that is left
are the scraps of your life,
fluttering past in the breeze.
Your smile and laugh,
and a thousand days past,
they’re flying just out of my reach.

If I can pretend that you’re just out of town,
will that ease the ache in my brain?
Can I come up with reasons that you’re not around?
Will it hold off the tears and the pain?

If I never start.
If I lie to my heart.
If I never cry
and try not to try.
If I sing this song,
will you somehow go on?
If I never grieve,
will you never leave?

For Steve Wolff….
February 19th, 2013.

Barbie Angell
© 2013

I moved to Asheville, NC in late August of 1999 and started working at Kinko's because I had experience and few small businesses would hire someone who had just relocated.  There wasn't a big "buy local" movement here back then, but over the next 13 years I found myself explaining why I would be happy working for a corporation.  The two stories that always stuck out in my mind were about my manager Steve Wolff.  He was hired in 2001 and, since he had no experience with the company, I trained him.  Steve treated our crew like a family.  Shortly after we met, my father came to live with me.  He was dying of cancer and I was apprehensive about asking my new boss for a little leeway with my time off.  I had just taken almost 4 weeks off work only a few months before and I was worried about my job.  Steve told me that taking care of my father would be the most important thing I would ever do with my life.  He talked to me for about an hour, advising me and consoling me, all the while assuring me that this was the right thing to do.  A month later my father passed away and Steve was there, supporting me and giving me whatever I needed to get through that difficult time.  "The world for you," he would say, and he truly meant it.

In 2004 our store flooded.  The local paper ran a story about the destruction of the Biltmore Village area and the article started with Steve.  While other people were gawking at the rising water, Steve was there on his cell phone calling other Kinko's in the region to find jobs for all his employees.  He had shown up around 3am to make sure that the third shift person got out safely and then did what Steve always did...he took care of the people he cared about.

Steve Wolff passed away on February 5th, 2013.  He leaves behind a lovely, gracious and incredible wife and three brilliant, funny, wonderful children.  He also leaves behind a mountain of friends.  As the manager of what is now called FedEx Office, he touched the lives of most of the Asheville community.  Always with a big smile, remembering the names of our customers and knowing just the right thing to make them laugh.  Steve was every cliche.  He would literally give you the shirt off his back.  He absolutely had a heart of gold.  He never met a stranger and was fiercely loyal to everyone he cared for.  He was loud and hilarious and was very much a father to me and many others...and I will miss him more than I can possibly explain.

Thanks, Barbie, for this beautiful tribute. Here is a link to Stephen Wolff's obituary at Asheville Citizen Times.com


  1. my pleasure. it's my hope that it will help someone going through something similar. thank you for commenting....i really do appreciate it.
    : )


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