Women in My Life
I have been fortunate enough to have some wonderful women in my life. Number one was my mother. She taught me what unconditional love is. Her love never wavered, was never limited or measured. She may not have liked my behavior at times, but the love was always there. You knew when she was upset or angry (which wasn’t often) but she didn’t speak words that were hurtful. She had a way of expressing her anger without making you feel small. She was always a lady. The day after my marriage, she was my best friend. She allowed our roles to change back if I was seeking advice, but never forced advice on me. My dad looked like the dominate one in the relationship, but he admitted to me after her death, that she was his equalizer and the one who kept him in balance. She put love into everything she did, her singing, her cooking, her gardening, her relationships, etc. People were drawn to her because she was genuine inside and out. Importance was put on her loved ones and material things meant nothing to her.
Her mother was another great example in my life. She birthed seven children (lost one at age two) but raised the other six with my grandfather. I remember always having a feeling of calmness and peace around her and her zest for life was wonderful. She beat ovarian cancer at 84 years old, had hip surgery at 85 years old (the pin slipped and the doctor tried to talk her into just leaving it) and told her she was getting around real well in a wheelchair, to which she responded….”Put me back on the table and do it right this time, I will walk again” and she did! At 95 years old, my aunts took her to Colorado on vacation and after a few days she said, “Where are we going next year?” She lived to be 104 years old! She was a very spiritual being. I don’t remember ever hearing her gossip or speak harm about anyone. I loved our visits with her. Her youngest child, Aunt Mary, who is now 100 years old and in a nursing home in New Orleans was also a role model. She never married and taught voice at Loyola University for years. She had a beautiful voice, had a radio show on WWL and sang in Carnegie Hall. She showed me what self- sufficient means. The last time I visited her, music was playing and she was shaking hers shoulders and telling me what good exercise that was! Maybe that’s why I love dancing so much.
My paternal grandmother was also a strong women. She had five children, but was left by an alcoholic husband to raise them by herself. My dad who was 9 years old when his father left, became the surrogate husband and surrogate father. She managed to buy a big house on the beach and opened a rooming house to support her children. She also took care of several older relatives in not only her family, but also my grandfather’s family. She was a wonderful chef and was eager to teach anyone how to cook. All of her children had chores and became responsible adults. She spoke French with her mother and my twin and I would hear our names in the conversation but never knew what they were saying. It got to be a joke with us. I remember calling her for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and hearing the same words…”How many people are coming?” I would tell her 20 and she would say “Oh, but Cher, you’ve got three babies and you’re feeding all those people, you’re going to be so tired”. I’d assure her that everything would be okay and she would come. She never remarried and I remember her getting more negative and becoming more of a victim as she aged, but everyone overlooked it because we loved her.
This is just a sprinkle of the examples of the women in my life. I was so fortunate and blessed to be surrounded by these beautiful women. My hope is that you have some beautiful memories of women in your life and that you are leaving beautiful memories of yourself for your children or grandchildren.
Toni True-Wills, Ph.D.