Thursday, May 08, 2014

Thursday Thirteen: Honoring Women

Today I thought I'd offer up a little glimpse at 13 women who have impacted my life. My mother has passed on, so I am going to celebrate Mother's Day this year by celebrating ALL women here today.

Their numbers are legion, so 13 doesn't begin to cover every woman who has impacted my life.

1. My mother. For better or worse, it's always Mom who has the top spot. My mother worked at the same job for 30 years, beginning when she was 16 as a file clerk. We moved to a farm when I was 7 years old. I think she hated every minute of it, but she learned to garden, can food, and chase cows with the best of 'em. She was 18 years old when I was born, so she was a young mother. She really didn't have time to grow up before I was there. She taught me, most of all, to stand by my husband and support him. My mother died in 2000 from pancreatic cancer.

2. My grandmother. My mother's mother was also a great force in my life. Grandma kept me from the time I was about two years old until I started school, and then during the summers until I was around 13. She also took care of me when I was sick; Mom would drop me off on her way to work. Grandma raised six children and took care of numerous grandchildren. Every Friday she would walk up to her sister's house and do her hair. She taught me the meaning of family, I think. Grandma died in 2007.

Aunt Susie
3. Aunt Susie kept me when I was a wee babe; she used to love to point out the windowsill I once chewed on and left teeth marks. I wonder if they are still there? Aunt Susie had no children of her own but raised stepchildren. She and Uncle Carl were collectors and her house was a treasure-trove full of dolls, salt shakers, and model cars. She loved to crochet and when she was in her 80s she made afghans "for the old people" to have at nursing homes. That's the way to grow old, eh?

Aunt Carolyn
4. Aunt Carolyn is my mother's sister. She and I are a lot alike; she likes computers and is very business-minded. I am like that too, except that gets tempered by my unusual creativity and passivity. Carolyn has more drive than I do, I think. She's very independent and pretty much a straight-shooter when it comes to telling you what's what. She's going strong at 62 and I wish I had her methodology about work - and her health.

Aunt Jennifer
5. Aunt Jennifer married into the family, being my mother's brother's wife. She went back to nursing school as an older student and obtained her degree. Most recently she had bariatric surgery to help her with her weight, and I think that was a tough thing to do for someone nearing 60. She has goals and dreams and goes after them. She also stepped in and helped me tremendously when my mother was ill.

Grandma B.
6. My Grandma B., who lives in California, is not someone I knew well. The US is a big country and 2,000 miles are not easily overcome. She visited a few times and I went to see her once. We talked on the phone a lot before she lost her hearing, though. She is now 93 years old and living in a nursing home. She was widowed over 20 years ago and hung in there. When I was 17, she and my grandfather visited and my grandmother and I had a little argument. Later, when I apologized, she told me, "That's okay. You didn't hurt me, only my feelings." I have never forgotten that particular lesson, that you are not your feelings. They are two very different things. I thought that was a good life-lesson and one that has served me well.

My mother-in-law
7. My mother-in-law has been a steadfast anchor for her family for the entire time I've been an in-law. She worked outside the home at a good job until her retirement about 10 years ago. She supported her husband, who passed away in 2010, in everything he attempted. She has bounced back from his loss in an admirable way and has created a whole new life for herself. I really am impressed by her ability to do that - not every woman can. She also was an exemplary patient when she broke her hip a number of years ago. She did everything the doctors and nurses told her to do with scarcely a complaint, and was soon back at home taking care of life again. She is faithful in her religion and loves her children and grandchildren fiercely. She has taught me the meaning of quiet strength.

My friend L., who hates
to be photographed
8. My friend L. has been my cheerleader and supporter for more than 30 years. She has held my hand during bad times, offered me encouragement when I needed it, and applauded my efforts to return to school and obtain my degrees. L. has taught me how to be a friend, and that's an important thing to know.

9 & 10. I wrote on Tuesday about two of my teachers, Tina Weiner and Dee Sheffer, and how influential they have been in my life. They both supported me throughout high school, which was a difficult time for me (as it is for most of us), and helped me become the woman I am today. I can name other teachers who were influential in my life, too: Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Lanning, Mrs. Kiker, Mrs. Kidd, Mrs. Thompson, and Ms. All come quickly to mind. Kindness goes a long way - they were all nice to me.

Amanda (l) and me.
11 & 12. Two of my college professors were also instrumental in molding me: Jeanne Larsen and Amanda Cockrell. Jeanne taught me several classes at Hollins and I write as well as I do because of her. She offered me amazing support when I was struggling and her belief in my abilities strengthened my resolve at a time when I needed it most. Amanda taught me writing courses when I went back for my masters degree and encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone. I stay in touch with both of them and they are terrific role models. My teachers have always been people I look up to and respect. I can't thank them enough for their support.

13. Every other woman I know. Gosh, there are so many. My sisters-in-laws, Jennifer and Dina. My niece, Zoe, who at 12 has shown me perseverance. Too many cousins to list. My friends: Brenda, Teresa, Jules, Lisa, Beth, Cathy, B.J., Inga, Dreama, Sudie, Bobbie Lou, Monty, and hundreds of others who have impacted me in one way or another. Even women I never speak to, whom I see juggling children and shopping carts in the store, have an impact on me. Every woman writer I have ever read has left her mark - so thank you Carolyn Keene, Jane Austin, Laura Ingalls Wilder, L. M. Montgomery, Janet Evanovich, Jane Smiley, Sue Grafton, the Bronte' sisters, Sharon Old, Nora Roberts, and hundreds more.

I applaud you all, young, old, weak and strong. Thank you for being you.

Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here. I've been playing for a while and this is my 343rd time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday.


  1. My grandmother too was such a thrifty loving inspiration . I cannot get my blog to enter today ??

  2. Oh, what wonderful women you have in your life. What an inspiring post. Thanks.

  3. What a tribute to these amazing women. Your mum-in-law sounds ever so much like my own one did! We females are outnumbered by the blokes 6 -1 in our family! I'm so, so hoping for a granddaughter or two in the near future!

  4. What a strong circle of women you were raised by. It's very inspiring! And now that I'm a nana I can see what big influence they have.

  5. Isn't it amazing how rich our lives are because of the women in them? I have similar relatives. Not so much on the teachers, though.

  6. Great post, Anita. You're lucky to have had so many strong women in your family, and in your life. My Wildflower T13

  7. Excellent post. You have/had some wonderful role models in your life.


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