My Granny, Helen Dotsie Skelton, was extremely influential in my formative years. We often lived with her in her tiny little house. She was patient, kind and loving. She told us stories every night at bedtime. From her I learned the stories of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the Billy Goats Gruff, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Three Little Pigs. But mostly I learned that she had time for us, even at the end of the day when she was undoubtedly tired to the point of exhaustion. We used to fight over who would get to sleep with her. She made the best oatmeal cookies I've ever eaten and a yummy small sugar cookie she called a teacake that would just melt in your mouth. On Sunday, if she didn't have a ride, she would walk more than a mile to church, sometimes twice. She was dirt poor but always had money to buy her grandchildren a YooHoo or an RC Cola and a candy bar. She would sit in the yard with us and let us serve her mud pies and grape Koolaid from an aluminum teapot or she would give us an old spoon and tell us to go dig in the yard. She would fill several number 3 washtubs in the yard with water and let us play in them. She had a yard full of beautiful plants including hydrangeas, lilies, daffodils and jonquils all planted and cared for by her. She fed any and all stray cats that showed up at her back door and more than a few stray kids. She made our days with her carefree and magical. She made me feel loved and safe.
When I was in junior high school, we had a next-door neighbor named Mrs. Read who taught me and my younger sister to embroider. She was quite elderly and lived alone, but she had family nearby who came by regularly to spend time with her and take her out. She didn't have to, but she took the time to spend time with two young girls who were starved for attention. She would invite us over for tea and cookies served on fine china with embroidered napkins. She taught us about graciousness and friendship. I've tried to pay it forward with the girls in our neighborhood. She made me feel worthy.
Throughout my years in school I was fortunate to have a number of wonderful teachers who really went the extra mile. The one who stands out most was Mrs. Livsey my high school PE teacher. It was years before girls played competitive sports. We only played intramural sports. But I have always loved sports and embraced everything from flag football to tennis to basketball energetically, if not skillfully. She once told me that I was the kind of student who made teaching worthwhile for her. She made me feel capable.
There were several women who worked with my church youth group who were glowing examples of inspiring women. Mickey Rigby was one of them. She was warm and loving and fun. She would have dozens of us over to her home for fellowship on Sunday evenings and she was always right in the middle of whatever we were doing. She played games with us, cooked for us, went to summer camp with us, and was a wonderful example of a fun-loving Christian wife and mother. Two other ladies of note were part of that same church leadership, Thelda Jefferies and Jimmie Lou Vanzant both spent a lot of time showing the young girls of our church how to properly conduct themselves. They were the most beautiful and glamorous ladies I knew and they both were a great support for me. These women taught me to give of myself.
Catherine Doss was the director of the day care center where my children went to day care from the time they were two years old until they started school. She took me under her wing and taught me important things about being a young mother. Things like, it's okay for boys to play with dolls because boys have to learn to be daddies just like girls have to learn to be mommies. She comforted both my children and me when they had separation anxiety. She helped me deal with one of my children biting other children and one who didn't like anything in her environment to change. She was a wise woman and I would have had a much harder time leaving my children and going to work without her. She taught me how to be a good mother.
Ordinary women inspire me. Women who do a lot with a little inspire me. Moms who support their families through illness and difficulties inspire me. Women who work hard to make a living and still find a way to show their children the beautiful things in life inspire me. Women who find a way to overcome the life they came from inspire me. Women who just get up and put one foot in front of the other to do what has to be done day in and day out inspire me.
* * * * * * * * * *
Back 2 Blogging is presented by The SITS Girls and sponsored by Electrolux, Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances.