Friday, March 6, 2009
Who inspires you.....???
Audrey @ http://stage3whome.blogspot.com/ asked “Who inspires you?”. This struck me – I thought I should be able to answer that question – off the top of my head. I had to give it some real thought. Not because I couldn't’t think of anyone – but because there are so many amazing women who have walked through and currently reside in my life!! They all inspire different aspects of my life. I will do only two today – maybe more to come…… I will start with two who have continued to influence me today although one left me many years ago and I have lost contact with the other.
Phoebe was the Mom of my best friend when I was 10 to 16 years old. She truly was my second Mom. She understood how to nurture a horse crazy, tomboy in ways that were lost on my own Mom (whom nurtured me in other ways). She had so much horsey joy, she adored and understood me and loved me for who I was – adolescent warts and all. She dragged us all over for horse shows & built jumps in our field & spent hours smearing mayonnaise on horse manes and tails. I spent half those years in her house. After we moved to California, she continued to write and keep in touch with long, wonderful letters about – whatever. I ate each one up with a spoon, savoring every last drop of love. When I became pregnant at 20, she was the first person I called for advice and support. Years later I visited her in her home as she lay dying of breast cancer. She did so with such amazing grace. She still adored me and I was welcomed into their home like one of her own children! Phoebe had a permanent effect on who I am as a parent and who I aspire to be as a woman. So each time I have a teenager here, I think of how much a loving word or two from Phoebe effected me. She is my guide and will be forever my mentor.
During the years that I had Phoebe, I also had Ola Mae. She came to our home in Tennessee twice a week to clean for my mother. I came along late in life for my parents, my Mom , although wonderful was in her early 50’s during these years and (I get it now) starting to do things in her life that fed her own soul. She was very busy. In the early 70’s in the South, being black was not an easy thing. There was still deep separation. Being from New York I was not prepared for this, nor did I understand why Ola Mae lived literally on the other side of the tracks in a shanty town. I was very fortunate to have been brought up in a very well off family. I have also experienced several years of deep poverty after my divorce. Knowing how it feels to be deeply poor & busy trying just to get by, her tolerance for me was amazing. I adored Ola Mae and it seems she felt the same about me. How she put up with this rich girl following her about the house, sometimes for hours, chatting her ear off is beyond me. But she spoke to me as though I was one of her own well loved children. She passed on her wisdom and soft words like gifts to me. My Mom and I went to her tiny home several times. My Mom took her eggs, garden produce and bags of clothing that no longer fit me. I seem to recall Christmas gifts for her children also. From the view point of someone with money and a good heart it seems like a good thing to do – and it is. But, what I did not learn until years later, how very hard it is to accept charity, no matter how well meaning the giver is. Again this woman of amazing grace, never let on if any of this was hard for her. What she gave me all those years ago was my guide through poverty. She never said it, but her grace as she offered us tea in her tiny humble kitchen taught me volumes. Poverty is a state of mind not a state of being.