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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We’ve Come a Long Way, Babe-y!

TLC discovered March is Women’s History Month. I guess I knew this? But it’s made me wonder: Is there a Men’s History Month? And I must confess: I only became a “history buff” around the time I turned 40ish. Prior to that? Not so crazy about history—except in movies or historical fiction books—like Gone with the Wind. (I’m certainly not proud of this confession.)

So we were talking about women in our own “personal” histories—women that have made a significant impact on our lives. Of course, the list could be almost endless.  We decided to each write about five women in our past or present that were or continue to be important to us. It could be women we knew or know—or women we didn’t/don’t know, but loved/love.

Here, then, are Five Important Women In ELC’s History:

(1)  My maternal grandmother, Nana, was the most amazing woman to me. Born in Leeds, England, in 1894 (Leighton was her maiden name!), she moved with her family to El Paso, Texas, when she was six years old. Her father worked for the railroad. She took care of her parents while her five siblings moved on in their lives to WWI, jobs, marriages and parenthood. She married my grandfather when she was 38 and had her only child, my mother, when she was 40. My grandfather died five years later and Nana never remarried—becoming the quintessential “Single Working Mom.” She was a teacher for many years and then a banker—at a time when there weren’t many women in banking. When I (finally) became committed to earning a college degree, Nana, who truly had very little money, would send me a five dollar bill in a card every couple of months—encouraging me to stay positive. I would be so torn and feel so guilty, because I knew this was a lot for her to give. Those five dollars would pay for my food for an entire weekend. I loved her with all of my heart and soul. I cry tears of sadness and joy, often, when I think about her strength and total devotion to her daughter and four grandchildren.

(2)  Doris Day was my Hollywood/Celebrity/Movie Idol. I loved everything about her—her beauty, fabulous blonde hair, sparkling smile, infectious energy and classy style. I’d wait anxiously for her next movie to come out, hoping I’d be allowed to go see it. My parents had several of her albums and I knew every single word to every single song. I could spend an entire Saturday afternoon in our living room singing with her. I don’t know how many times, over the past 40 years, I’ve been in people’s homes that have “happy” sun rooms, breakfast rooms or bedrooms, and I’ve said: “This looks like it should be in a Doris Day movie!” Imagine my shock when I just recently learned my Step-Father-in-Law had a date or two with her after he returned from WWII and lived for a time in California. Wow. The Six Degrees of Doris Day.

(3)  Mrs. Johnson was my 8th, 9th, and 11th grade English teacher. She was bigger than life! Smart, funny, kind and, most of all, PATIENT. I rarely saw her outside of school—except maybe at a football or basketball game or dance. Even though I knew she had her own life and children, I liked to pretend I was her daughter. When she was talking to me, she was totally focused on really listening—without judging. She was always positive and encouraging. She made me love grammar, spelling, and writing (although I can promise you young peeps that all of those abilities start to fade—especially the spelling and grammar—as you age—it’s quite sad). I’ve always wondered if her family understood the tremendous and life-changing affect she had on her students.

(4)  Jane Pauley was my Morning News’ Idol from the mid ‘70s until 1989. When I stayed home from work, after having TLC, she became my friend as I watched her every day. She’s a couple of years older than me—kind of like the big sister I’d always wanted. She had twins a year or so before I had TLC. During her Today Show years, she was a Mom that surely understood all of the frustrations and fears I felt. I admired her on so many levels. She was an All-American beauty with intelligence, humor and a sense of purpose. As she’s changed and grown more “mature,” she’s somehow stayed the same to me: very attractive, smart, fun and relevant. A nice person. Her admission several years ago to being bi-polar only sealed my deep appreciation of her.

(5)  TLC. She’s my “5th” for three reasons: (1) She is our “5th” child—she has four older brothers; (2) Her number is “5” in Numerology (so is her Hubby’s)—which I will possibly discuss in the future; and (3) I went in age-order, oldest to youngest. Talk about someone who has influenced my own personal history! She was and is a gift from God to me and my husband. It was a struggle to get her here and a miracle when she finally arrived. She was a challenging infant and baby (didn’t sleep much for a couple of years), but utterly delightful—especially as a toddler. Smart, funny, pretty and cute (I’ve always loved her combination of brown eyes and blonde hair!), and spirited—all the qualities you hope to see in your children. She never ceases to amaze me. I cherish every single second we get to be together and get excited when I see she’s sent me an email or text. No one can make me laugh as long and hard as she does. She is my past, present and future. I cherish everything about her. I know you Moms out there can relate to this completely.

Please take a few moments, in honor of all women, to think about those ladies in your own life that have had a significant impact on you. You’re smiling, aren’t you? Have a tear or two? Powerful, right?


Autumn said...

OH ELC! What a great list of women to be admired. It will get all of us thinking of the women who are or have been important to us. And I think your name would be on many such lists, because of your ability to touch our lives. Thank you.

The Leightons said...

You're a sweetheart, Autumn! Thank you for your kind words. I'm very undeserving--but grateful. I admire your talents, creativity, humor and fabulous spirit! I hope you will always remember that. You are a Woman to be Reckoned With--and that's a good thing. Truly.

Hugs . . .