So here is a list in neither importance nor order of any kind. Just as the faces and names come to my mind.
- Lucille Anderson was my best friend's mom. Lucille never seemed to get angry with us when we made mistakes in judgement. She was kind, caring and gentle. She inspired me to be a more gentle mother.
- Aunt Sissy was fun. She lived in a way that made even the dullest day bright. She was my Daddy's sister. She could spin a yarn on the spot. Her husband died in 1960 leaving her with a laundry delivery business, a son in the navy, two teens still at home and an apartment building near the beach in Santa Monica. The day after he died she had to run the laundry van by herself. She only knew parts of the route by remembering certain intersections. She was successful in taking the business and making a success. Later she worked in a handicrafts business. She could do the most beautiful cutwork and other hand crafted items. She did all this without being overtly mean, angry or bitter. She transitioned through the various phases of her life with grace and a smile. She inspired me to accept change with an open heart.
- Aunt Opal, Mom's only sister, was faithful. She still refers to me as her first baby. Love, unconditional love. What better inspiration could anyone have.
- Aunt Billie, Daddy's baby sister, was a single mom in the 1950's. A tough situation. She held 3 jobs, shared a home with her mother and made it work. She trusted me to be responsible. That is a huge thing to a teen, to be seen as responsible and to be trusted. Aunt Billie was an executive assistant to the business associates of Clint Murchison. Later she was the executive assistant to Colonels and Commanders overseeing government military contracts with E Systems. Her expertise gained her the respect and admiration of all ages of military and civilians. And, like her sister, Aunt Sissy, Aunt Billie could spin a yarn filled with humor!
- Mrs. Taylor was simply a grade school teacher. We had first, second and third grades together in the country school I attended. The floors were wooden and well worn from decades of use. This was the same school house my Mom attended. Mrs. Taylor did not let the setting determine the quality of teaching. Her daughter was a stewardess as they were called in the 50's. The daughter would come visit our school dressed in the uniform of her profession. She even brought everyone the little gum packets. Mrs. Taylor would read to us country kids each day after lunch recess. We were instructed to lay our heads on our desks, close our eyes and listen. And she read us Shakespeare. Then in the late spring not long before summer break we did a performance for PTA. We made the props and brought flowers from home to decorate the stage setting. First, second and third graders entertained the farmers, ranchers and the few others in the community with a performance of 'A Midsummer's Night's Dream'. She inspired a roomful of ragtag country kid to believe there was more to life than pigs, cattle, corn, cotton and drag racing.
- Edna Adcock was calm. Mom Adcock was quite. When we came to visit, she did not bawl and squall when we left to return to Texas. I admired her for that. I admired her for taking care of her finances in a way that left her self sustaining her entire life. Granted, some of her approach to saving could be eccentric, it got the job done. Her lifestyle inspired me to rethink my approach to life.
- Granny Chandler was a grandmother. She inspired me to accept aging with grace. That is so important at this point in life. She, also, by her willingness to just sit and watch children inspired me to appreciate children. The simple pleasure of kids at play. The joy of sharing traditions with children in unassuming ways. Granny wore her long, gray hair in a knot at the top of her head. She made the best rolls without having ever heard of Martha Stewart. She endured countless hardships such as the loss of her father at an early age. She helped make the living for the younger siblings. Granny married 'late in life' for the times. Her first child was born when she was 36. She had 3 more children in a 6 year span. One of her homes and property were lost in the Crash of 29. Later she would have the last home burn to the ground. Her husband suffered a stroke and was immobile the last couple of years of his life. Granddaddy passed leaving Granny to live with her children for the remainder of her life. And I never remember her speaking of regrets. She aged without complaints. She would sit for what seemed endless hours letting a granddaughter comb her long thin hair. And she always wore an apron except to town or church. She inspired me to live in the now without regrets.
- My mother inspired me to seek extensive counseling. You see inspiration can come from seeing how a person's words and actions are hurtful. How the face of the person the world sees is at times a 180 degrees from the face behind closed doors. Mom did not flinch from taking on non traditional roles in order to help put food on the table. She was the first female school bus driver in Collin County. I was about 19 months old when she took on the responsibility. She plowed, hoed, picked cotton, drove crops to market and sewed like master couture. Momma gave of herself to care for aging relatives and friends.
- Dr. Anne Khalil inspired me to see liberation did not have to look the same for all women. She was my first mental health professional to help me begin the journey of overcoming a less than Ozzie and Harriet childhood.
- Mai Gray was the first black president of the Division of United Methodist Women. Mai Gray was well read, compassionate and articulate. To this day I am inspired by her recalling a visit to India in the mid 1970's. She saw a child of about 10 or 12 years of age pickup a banana peel from the road. The child took the peel and pulled the strings that we leave in the peels. This child then fed these strings to a younger child. Mai Gray inspired me to see the larger world and the needs around me. She did all this with Christlike wisdom and the grace of a ballerina.
This list could go on and on. I have been so blessed to have been surrounded by so many inspirational women in my life. A life that has been lived in an age of redefining women's roles in the world. A time of heightened racial and social awareness. A time of hopes as high at the moon with sadness as deep as assassinations. But I have had these varied women to act as lighthouses in the storms of life. Sisters in the dance of being female.