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Monday, March 12, 2012

Some of My Favorite Women...

When I saw Stasha's topic, I knew I had to participate in Monday Listicles today.  In honor of International Women's Day, that fell last week, on March 8th, she asked us to write a list celebrating womanhood.  I've decided to make a list of ten women who have inspired and helped shape my life as I know it...

1. My Mother...She is one of the most selfless, caring, genuine people I have ever known.   She has a gift for seeing the good in everyone she meets and her positive attitude and inner goodness are always a breath of fresh air. She taught me how to love.  
1970 something
 2. Mrs. White...She was my babysitter from the time I was an infant until about the second or third grade.  She kept kids in her home for years and I was one of the last she kept before her retirement. She was feisty and strong as well as warm and nurturing, all at the same time.  She had white hair and I remember thinking that was why we called her Mrs. White until one of the older kids set me straight.  I kept in touch with her, visited her and exchanged letters with her for years after moving to North Carolina at the age of fifteen. I loved her like she was my very own grandmother and still think of her often, especially when I see old fashioned peppermint sticks, orange slices and circus peanuts, all three of which she seemed to have an endless supply of.  She passed away in the early 2000s. 

3. My second mother, Lynne... She married my dad when I was about six years old.  Lynne is one of those people who doesn't meet a stranger and as shy as I was as a child, she managed to bring me right out of my shell and make me feel loved and comfortable when I was around her.  Although she and my dad divorced in the late nineties, I will always consider her my beloved other mother. 
My college graduation, 1994. I don't know how I held my head up with all that hair. 
4. My maternal grandmother, Ollie Mae... She got cancer when I was very young and passed away when I was only four years old but somehow, although my handful of memories of her are very vague, I have always felt a connection with her spirit. One of my earliest memories (I couldn't have been more than three years old, if that) is of sitting on her lap in her front porch rocking chair, in my pajamas, and feeling such a sense of love, peace and serenity. 
Here we are at my first birthday party.  She's the one in the green dress holding little baldie aka me. 
5. Big Mama, my great grandmother... She was a small woman so I have no idea where she got the name Big Mama.  She had a stroke late in life that left her unable to speak but every time she saw me, her eyes would light up, she would try to tell me something and often tried to sneak money into my hand.  She died when I was in the sixth grade and her funeral was the first one I recall shedding tears at.
Here she is at my sixth birthday party.  That's me in the the pink jumper, frowning.   
6. Stephanye...Stephanye is Lynne's (my other mother) daughter.  I talked about the first time we met in a post awhile back... She was a big talker. I was not.  On the night my dad and her mom introduced us, she kept chattering away in the car as I remained mute.  She finally stopped in dead sentence and said, "Mama, Mama!  Can she talk?!" We spent most weekends together and some of my best childhood memories include her.  She still lives in Georgia where she and her husband are raising their three biological children as well as several foster children.  I am in awe of her.  
Disney World, 1988 in Starjet number one. I have no idea why I'm biting my tongue. 
7. Michelle... Michelle and I were both the new kids on the block at the beginning of our tenth grade year.  She had moved from another town and I had moved from another state.  I was incredibly shy and did not make friends easily.  We hit it off immediately and became almost inseparable, so much so that we were often asked if we were sisters or if we had moved there together. I still shudder to think what that year would have been like for me had Michelle not shown up on that second day of Biology class and asked if the desk beside me was taken.  We remain the best of friends still today, over 25 years later.  
Carolina Beach, 1980something
8. Pat...I don't know what I would have done without her when Darin (her son, my first husband) died.  She took a three month leave of absence from her job as a nurse and stayed nights with us, helping me take care of the boys.  We leaned on each other through our grief and I will forever be thankful for her presence, her love, her friendship and her genuine spirit.

9. Shirley...I first met Shirley in early 2000 when she came to help out in the florist I had very recently bought into with my friend Dana. We became fast friends and her lively spirit and can do attitude were a godsend.  She developed a strong bond and attachment to Devin, who was just a baby when she came into our lives, and was there for us when I was widowed at the end of 2003.  She would just show up, start straightening up my house, doing laundry, occupying the boys, keeping me company... She was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor last year, underwent surgery and is still fighting it with all she has.  If anyone can beat cancer, it's Shirley.  

10. Jenn, Kari and Michele...Okay, I realize this is three women, making this a list of 12 women instead of 10 but the more the merrier, right?  These three ladies came into my life not long after I was widowed.  Because they were too.  We met online via an online support group.  I am not sure I will ever be able to put into words what each of them did for my soul.  But I gave it my best shot when I wrote She Knew What I Knew in 2010.   
November, 2005
There are so many other amazing women who have inspired and shaped my life.  It would take me days to recall them all.  So I'll just say, "Thank You!"  Thank you for being the incredible women God created you to be.

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  1. How precious! Thanks for the compliment!

    I think you're pretty amazing:)

  2. What a great list! All women who have impacted & enriched your life incredibly. I really must do this myself.

  3. Fantastic list! It looks as if you have been surrounded by an army of amazing women all of your life!

  4. What a beautiful tribute to all the wonderful women in your life.

  5. What a wonderful list - you're fortunate to have so many amazing women in your life.

  6. What a wonderful list. I am so glad you shared your life with so many wonderful, inspiring women. I could not complete a list of ten so I am happy you got 12! Also your hair in collage was incredible.

  7. You have been blessed with these amazing women! Wonderful, and I'm so glad they came into your life at the time they were most needed. :)

  8. You have some awesome people in your life!

  9. What a fantastic post! I love reading how each of them touched your life.

  10. Love your remembrances and the photos. Makes me think I need a scanner. Good job.

  11. What an incredible list! A rare good fortune to have such a strong foundation.

  12. How lovely that you have had such wonderful women touch your life. A beautiful post.

  13. Great tribute to the women in your life.

  14. Amazing list of amazing women in your life! I love reading about each and every one of them