9. List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.
When I began this series, I was tapping out at least one answer a day, but when this question came up, it was a hurdle I couldn’t jump. How can I, in a relatively short answer, be expected to talk about the 10 people who have most influenced me?
I could easily write five or more pages about each of the people on this list, and I may come back later and do just that. For now, though, I have edited it to as manageable an answer as I can muster, even though it seemed a nearly impossible task when I first sat down to write. As I think ahead to the list I have decided to share with you, I see that there may be some surprises. I hope if you have questions or need to know more, you will ask. Each of these people has earned their way onto the list for better or for worse, and I will gladly tell you more if you would like to know.
The only thing I ask in return is that, as you grow up, you recognize the people who are important in your Life and decide if you truly want them to have an influence. I have been blessed by people who have brought love and light and knowledge and so many thankfulness-spreading things into my Life and helped shape who I am today, but there were also a few wild turkeys along the way who I should’ve shot on sight. I hope you know better than I did when to put out the welcome mat and when to reload.
So who are the 10 people who have most influenced me? They are:
1. Your Nana and Papa.
No matter what you choose to be or where you go, your parents will always influence the person you become. For some people, that may not be a positive thing, but for me it certainly was.
My parents taught me to respect other people and to respect myself. They taught me to laugh often but know when seriousness was needed. Through their guidance, I sought education and opportunity and never let obstacles hold me back for long. When I was younger, their ideas on discipline and what I should and shouldn’t do seemed ridiculous. I thought my parents were overbearing and critical of too many things. My friends were allowed freedoms I never had, and there was a suffocating sense of being sheltered and not allowed to cut up and act out.
They were right, and I hope you think the same things about me some day. It means I did my job as your parent. You aren’t allowed to run around in restaurants. EVER. I wasn’t either. You are expected to do what you’re told. ALWAYS. I was, too. You are being raised to treat others with kindness but to know when to draw the I-won’t-take-this-anymore line in the sand. YES. Everyone should know how to balance that.
All these things have served me well as an adult, and I know they will do the same for you. My hope for you is that you mature into young women who see that the rules and restrictions in your Life weren’t meant to hold you back. They were meant to build you up. Your Nana and Papa prepared me for Life in ways I did not appreciate at the time but have since come to understand. They built the foundation from which I was able to take a leap of faith and either soar or sink. Thankfully, based on how they influenced me, I spread my wings and flew.
If I do half as good a job as they did, you will, too, some day, and maybe, just maybe, you will feel like I have been one of the main influences in your Life. Let’s just hope you see it as a positive influence.
2. Your Daddy.
Just when I had accepted that Sarah and I would lead a quiet life on our own, your Daddy came along. Suddenly, there was someone who didn’t need me to be anyone other than who I was. He thought everything about me was beautiful, and he looked into my eyes like he had discovered something he had sought his entire Life. He treated Sarah like she was his biological child and nothing short of a miracle, and he treated me like he couldn’t believe I allowed him in my presence.
Your Daddy is a rare find. He may not be perfect, but neither am I. We may not always agree on everything, but that’s okay. Life would be boring if we were identical. Your Daddy makes my heart, mind, body and soul sing a happy tune.
Oddly enough, if I had somehow had the chance to date him earlier in my Life, I’m not sure I would’ve been ready to take on someone with his depth of love and interest in me. He came along when I had washed my hands of relationships and reminded me that love doesn’t have to be difficult. He took my small life with my little princess and cultivated it into a family that grew to include two more princesses and more love than I could have imagined.
If I can call my Life “complete,” it is only because your Daddy came into it when he did.
You, my three perfectly precious princesses, have influenced my world as much as anyone else, if not more. No matter what other choices I ever made and changed (and changed again), one thing has remained the same – I wanted to be a mother. There was a long period when I thought that would not be possible, and I grieved for the loss of my chance at motherhood.
Then, totally without warning, there was a positive pregnancy test. Three more tests and lab-drawn blood work all showed the same thing. I was going to be a mommy. What the tests didn’t show, of course, was the fact that I was in total shock, had no idea what to do and wasn’t sure I was up to the challenge.
In the year leading up to finding out Sarah was on the way, my world had become an unpredictable, self-created Tilt-A-Whirl. My Life’s path was one of chaotic destruction, and I honestly didn’t really care what happened to me. There was such a twisted path of bad choices that led me to that dark place that I’m not really sure how to begin that conversation with you. One day when you are older and can handle some hard-edged truths, we can talk about it if you are interested in knowing more.
For now, though, all you need to know is that your Mama is exceedingly blessed by you. Every breath you take reminds me of how amazing your journeys into this world were. When Sarah was born, I was single and not really sure what I was doing. When Aubrey came along, your Daddy and I had just gotten married and settled into the idea of our three-person family staying that way. When Zoey surprised us, we had just gotten a puppy that day to “complete our family” and were clear on the fact that we were a two-kid family rather than the three-ring circus we have become.
That three-ring circus is every thing, every second, every blink, every breath for me. I wouldn’t change any of it, and I am certain in my belief that you each arrived in my Life just as you were meant to at just the moment you were supposed to. Your influence on me runs so deep that I’m convinced I could never truly explain it to you. I’m not even sure I understand it most days. As the saying goes, “No one else will ever know the strength of my love for you. After all, you are the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside.”
You don’t just know the sound of my heart, girls. You ARE my heart.
4. Mark Young
While I’m mentioning you three, I have to mention my Uncle Mark. All my family has influenced me in some way, but it was his death, rather than his Life, that influenced me the most. June 28, 2004, I got the call from your Nana that Uncle Mark (your Papa’s youngest brother) had passed away very unexpectedly. He wasn’t much older than I am now, and he was seemingly healthy.
I, on the other hand, was 29, weighed nearly 350 pounds and could barely get out of bed most days without excruciating pain. My body could not handle the amount of weight I was asking it to carry. I was taking eight pills a day for depression, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, blood pressure and arthritis. I had been told I would never have children because of a “markedly retroverted cervix,” which I now know was due, in part, to my obesity.
When Uncle Mark died, it was a wake-up call. I knew if I didn’t make immediate, drastic changes in my Life, I wouldn’t be around to see 40. I could barely walk 10 feet without losing my breath, and my body wasn’t going to be able to struggle along like that forever.
Something had to change.
That evening as we sat in shock at my grandparents’ house (which you now know as your own home), your Papa turned to me and said, “So when are we going to schedule this gastric bypass for you?” I had broached the subject a couple of months earlier but was met with great resistance from my family and a fairly substantial amount of my own hesitation and uncertainty. But now here was my Dad asking me this question as if it were a foregone conclusion. I didn’t even have to think about it – if I didn’t want the next funeral to be my own, I needed to act quickly.
October 28 of that year, I had gastric bypass with Dr. Thomas Lavin in Covington, La. That decision changed my Life in so many ways I don’t even know where to begin in counting the blessings that have continued to pour forth. Because of that weight loss, I was blessed with the chance to become your mother. I feel better and can get around so much better. My outlook on Life improved greatly, and I feel much better about my chances of becoming an old, gray-haired woman before my time is up on this Earth.
My Uncle Mark’s death was the catalyst for that change. As hard as it was to lose him (I still miss him every single day and wish he were here to meet you), it set in motion a set of events for me that would turn my path in a whole new direction.
5. My English and journalism teachers
Deciding what you want to do for a living can seem impossible. There are so many options and so many other people pursuing the same dreams. Competition can be rough, and the people who are there to guide you through the choppy waters can have some of the greatest influence on you long-term.
Throughout my Life, I have been blessed to learn from educators who believed in me. I’m not sure if it was because your Nana and Papa taught me to respect people in authority or if it was because I clearly loved English and journalism and wanted to learn, but whatever it was, my teachers liked me and took an extra interest in my pursuit of the perfectly turned phrase and the next creative idea.
Susie Simmons was my eighth grade English teacher. She made me feel like there were no limitations on what I could accomplish. She took my love of English and fanned the tiny flames into a roaring bonfire that, all these years later, is inextinguishable. Vickie King was my ninth grade honors English teacher and was also my journalism teacher in tenth through twelfth grade. She taught me the phrase, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out,” and that has stuck with me all these years later. Mrs. King made me believe I had something special to contribute to the world of journalism.
Dr. Thomas “Eddie” Blick was one of the first people I met at Louisiana Tech, and he is, to this day, one of the people I respect most in this world. He repeated the phrase about checking out your mother’s love to me on the first day of Journalism 101, and he helped me build on the small foundation I already had in immeasurable ways. Sallie Rose Hollis helped shape me at Tech as well. Through Ms. Hollis, I learned I had a nerdish love of editing, and I learned piles and piles of useful things that would become the mental ammunition which would blow my head up many times over the years when presented with someone’s glaring communication errors.
Even though I didn’t work directly with Wiley Hilburn as much as I did with Dr. Blick and Mrs. Hollis, Mr. Hilburn was a significant influence on the development of my writing style. He told it like it was, no matter what “it” might be. There was no sugarcoating and ego stroking. If he liked you, you knew, and for whatever reason, he decided he liked me. Learning from Mr. Hilburn was one of my first significant experiences in finding my writing voice and deciding who I wanted to be in the journalistic world.
When you have been out of school twenty-plus years like I have, you will be fuzzy on details like what your friends wore to prom, who broke up with whom and maybe even where your friends are now. You will most likely not remember every teacher you had and will have forgotten half of what some of them taught you.
However, if you are as lucky and blessed as I have been, you will have worked with a core group of teachers who did more than just make sure you knew enough to pass the class. They mentored and encouraged me and made me believe I could achieve my dreams. They showed me there was something I was good at that could take me beyond the small-town restrictions of Crossett. They were instrumental in the professional I became and the career path I chose, and I will always be thankful for having had the chance to learn from them.
6. Carroll Roge
Sometimes the person who has a great deal of influence over you is not the person who is supportive, gentle and kind. Sometimes it is the person who tells you that you are too full of yourself. Carroll was that person for me.
Don’t get me wrong – he was a great friend and mentor and was absolutely one of my greatest supporters when I lived in Tyler, Texas, for five years and worked for the East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System. He taught me so much about marketing and business and was such a fun, positive force in my world as I set out on the first steps of my career path. But he could and would tell me as quick as lightning if he thought I was full of crap, and I’m quite thankful he did.
When he thought I was being cocky, he told me just that. I needed to hear that I wasn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread and needed to know that I was no longer the big fish in the little pond of creativity in which I had grown. It allowed me to better function as a team member with my coworkers and helped me grow as a person.
When he thought my ideas weren’t as good as they could be, he would flat out tell me they stunk. He didn’t artificially pump me up to believe I deserved a trophy just for showing up. When my ideas were good, he told me. When they were bad, he told me that, too.
Because of my work with Carroll during the five years I was in Tyler, I learned design, honed my writing skills, pulled my hair out through hard lessons in project management, worked with film crews, improved my public speaking ability, realized it was okay to be wrong (and to admit it and to not let it stress me out), and generally learned what kind of boss I wanted to be if and when I ever got the chance.
If you haven’t already met him by the time you read this, I hope you get the chance some day. In all three of you girls, he will see little bits of me that shine through on occasion, and he can share stories with you about the person I was back then. Carroll was an influence on me both professionally and personally, and I am thankful for the chance to work with him in the beginning stages of my career. Hopefully, you will find someone like him one day who will take you in and give you a chance.
7. Jim Thomas
Jim Thomas was one of the most interesting, unique people I have ever met. He was a catalyst for free thinking and perspective changes. He introduced me to Anne Sexton, Theodore Roethke, Richard Hugo and Allen Ginsberg and told me I had the potential to shine. Other people in my world had said similar things, but here was someone who had been in the literary world and knew his way around a manuscript telling me that I had what it took to make it in the writing world. Even though I was only a teenager, I was being encouraged to submit my work to magazines and to continuously work on writing as a career by someone who actually knew of what he spoke.
Jim Thomas showed me that writing was art, and I will always remember how excitedly inspired I was by him. He was my creative writing professor in 1988 when I attended the Joseph Baldwin Academy for Eminent Young Scholars and again in 1990 when I attended the John R. Kirk Honors Institute, but he taught me so much more than just tricks for better writing.
He taught me to pursue my own vision by making assignments such as “Write something from the perspective of the second person from the corner.” I had never been challenged to freely create my own ideas and pursue them willy nilly up and down whatever path my brain happened upon. I laid down near the corner and stared at the ceiling trying to feel what it meant to be the second person from the corner. From that exercise came the most macabre, unsettling writing I have ever put on paper. He read it. He loved it. He said he was disturbed that “something so gruesome came out of someone so syrupy Southern and sweet.” He encouraged me to do it again. And then to do it again and again. Write, write, write, he said, and when you’re done, go write some more.
Two years later I found myself back in Kirksville, Mo., journeying through the “much-traveled picaresque” with him. That class gave me a much-needed appreciation for the craft of writing and what it takes to be a Faulkner or Cervantes. Jim Thomas once again opened my eyes to the world’s possibilities and made me feel that I could someday have my name thrown about as one of the greats.
He let me run through a field at his house. He called me out when I spent more time flirting than reading or writing or whatever creative pursuit he had planned for that day. He talked about writing and words and the world and Life. He showed me a lampshade made of human skin.
(Yeah. That. Not his most creativity-inspiring moment, but it was pretty dang cool to a 15-year-old from small-town Arkansas.)
Just thinking about him makes me want to check you out of school and run through a field all afternoon or discuss fishing or talk about how words inspire you. Maybe you aren’t as in love with words as I am, but I am in love with you, and as your mother, it is my job to give you the chance to tap into that part of yourself if you want to. I will have to work on my Jim Thomas impression and see what trouble we can get into.
8. Emil Turner
Never in my Life have I been more filled with faith and a desire to humbly serve our God than I was on Sunday mornings when Emil Turner was in the pulpit at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Crossett, Ark. He came to our home one evening in the summer of 1988 and talked to me about what it meant to be a Christian. That Sunday, your Uncle Jake and I both stepped into the aisle and made that seemingly interminable walk to the front of the church to profess our faith.
Bro. Emil was waiting there with one of the most heartwarming, welcoming smiles I have ever seen. You would have thought seeing me and your Uncle Jake come up that aisle was like seeing his own children do the same. He put his arms around me and leaned in to my ear. I told him I was ready to ask God into my Life and to be baptized.
“How do you know He is in your heart, Rebecca,” he asked.
“Because when He knocked on the door of my heart, I answered,” I replied.
We both had tears in our eyes, and we prayed together while the congregation sang “Just As I Am.” I remember thinking that no matter where I went or what I did in Life, I would always remember that moment. I had walked down that aisle with so much respect for him and for the prayerful power he shared with us each Sunday, but what I met on the other end of the aisle was someone who seemed to be more in awe of me.
It wasn’t what I said or the way I said it. It was simply that I had made a profession of faith in front of my church family and had publicly declared my desire to be baptized. Regardless of how many people ever came forward in that church, Bro. Emil always seemed genuinely taken aback by the honor of helping lead someone to God and by the blessed opportunity to be part of that journey.
In the years since that sweltering hot day in August 1988, I have faced challenges and attempted to answer Life’s questions many times. Many times, I have thought back to the lessons Bro. Emil taught me about authenticity and faith. I have remembered the sincerity in his voice and the depth of belief he always carried with him. On many occasions, it has helped me pull through whatever it was that was hurting my heart, and no preacher since then has ever spoken to me in quite the same way.
Maybe it’s because he was the person who baptized me or maybe it’s just a child’s memory sugarcoating the past. Either way, he still means a lot to me, and I hope you find someone in your Life who will do the same for you. When Life feels upside down, faith and a respect for a Higher Power are often all we have to pull us through to the next leg of our journey.
9. Michelle Kirkley Ashley
You know Michelle as “Cameron’s Mom,” but I knew her as that evil little girl who tortured me throughout sixth grade. I wore solid white shoes – she called them my “nurse shoes” and said no kid should wear shoes made for grown-ups. I had a brown purse – she said only grandmas carried brown purses. If I wore it, said it or even thought it, she made fun of it. I dreaded walking into Mrs. Ritter’s homeroom class each morning because that curly-headed demon child would be sitting next to me beaming that how-can-I-irritate-you-today grin.
When we got to seventh grade, she cut me a little slack during class, but when we were outside at lunch, she would snatch the end of my pink and gray scarf from my matching pink jacket and run around the playground with it whipping in the wind behind her while she laughed at the top of her lungs and made me chase her to get it back.
At some point along Life’s odd path we turned a corner, and I began to think of her as a friend. Somehow in all that scarf-retrieving chasing I did, I began to laugh and to realize that Michelle picked on me because she was trying to get my attention. She was begging me to come out of my well-shaded shell and romp in the sun. I started seeing her less as an irritating, ever-present girl with a big laugh and began seeing her as someone who was so full of energy and Life and love and laughter and all the blessed things this world is made of that you couldn’t be sad when you were around her.
Beginning in eighth grade, Michelle and I were inseparable. We passed endless notes. We shared private jokes that we still remember and still can’t fully explain to anyone else. We told each other our deepest secrets and plowed through all the angst-ridden drama that comes with being a teenage girl. We talked on the phone. We went cruising. We survived breakups, church/flag/band camp, car wrecks, driver’s ed and Coach Sullivan’s insistence that we were “cooter jezzies.”
In Michelle, I had found a true friend, and to this day, there isn’t much I wouldn’t do if she needed me. She taught me to let go of inhibitions and let the world sweep me away sometimes. Michelle showed me how to lighten up, and I reminded her to come down from the clouds occasionally and study. We were the best of friends and stayed friends throughout college, which is something many people can’t say about their best high school friend. We still talked, and she came to visit me a couple of times after I moved to Texas. When I got married the first time, she was by my side as my maid of honor.
About a year later when she got married, someone else was her maid of honor, but that was okay. I had my own Life and hadn’t been in touch as much as I once was. My marriage was failing, and we had already separated once and gotten back together to try to make things work. When she told me she had chosen someone else as her maid of honor, I understood. When she said the ceremony would be private but that there would be a reception afterwards, I was disappointed, but, again, I understood.
I just wanted to see my beautiful friend marry the love of her Life. Where I stood didn’t matter.
When the day of her reception arrived, I was at your Nana and Papa’s house and was excited to be one of the first to congratulate her. I never made it to the reception, though. Your Papa’s mother (my Mam-ma) had to be rushed to the emergency room, and we took off for West Monroe to be with her. That was before cell phones, Facebook and texting, and we left so quickly, I didn’t get to tell her I wasn’t going to be able to make it.
When I returned to Texas, I waited to call her. I didn’t want to disturb her. A few days turned into a few weeks and then a few months. My marriage was ending, and I didn’t want to burden my joyfully newlywedded friend with my problems. She was starting off in her new Life as Mrs. Don Ashley, and I didn’t want to make her listen to my woeful tale of once again becoming Ms. Rebecca Young only 17 months after I said, “I do” and became Mrs. Wrong for Prince Not-So-Charming.
I had lost contact with someone who meant the world to me, and I didn’t know how to get it back. I assumed she hadn’t reached out to me because she was mad I didn’t come to the reception. I was hurt that she hadn’t called when my marriage was falling so painfully apart.
More than five years passed before we spoke again. I had remarried and was living in West Monroe. While in Walmart one day, I saw her in the checkout line. After all that time spent dwelling on what was wrong with our friendship, there she was in front of me. I couldn’t decide whether to ignore her or hug her and never let go.
We chatted for a few minutes and exchanged email addresses. Over the next few days, we talked several times at length, and I was finally able to tell her what had happened with Mam-ma. She had spent all those years thinking I was mad she didn’t ask me to be her maid of honor, and I had wasted all that time thinking she was mad I didn’t make it to the reception.
Why do I tell you all this history of what has gone on between us?
1. Michelle taught me not to worry what other people think and to dance my Life down a path that only I need to approve.
2. Michelle taught me that I should worry what my friends think if it means something small is going to come between us.
We wasted so many years not being friends. We became adults and started families of our own, and we missed important milestones we could’ve shared. That girl who tortured me in sixth grade turned out to be one of the best friends I have ever had, and I regret that something so inconsequential came between us. Michelle’s influence on me is not only in showing me how to laugh at myself and let go of my fears but also in teaching me that it’s important to talk to the people you love and not let small things come between you.
And last, but certainly not least, we have one lumped-together category which I label “Reasons to Reload.”
10. The ones that shouldn’t have been allowed to have an influence.
Sometimes the people who influence you are not the ones who bring love and laughter to your heart. They are the people who do not treat you well. While I have been fortunate to be surrounded by many people to whom I wish to give flowers while they are still living so they know how much I cherish their presence, I have also encountered my share of people who were not such a positive influence.
There are more men on the list than women, but don’t be fooled by that. There are just as many horrifically awful women in this world as there are men. So lest you think all the people I should’ve avoided are men, I’ll start with a woman. I trusted and respected her, and she turned out to be a backstabbing minion of Satan. She blindsided me with false accusations which I had no way to defend myself against, and her negative influence continued long after we no longer worked together in the form of some fairly hefty financial and emotional tolls. No amount of her negativity spewing could keep me down, though. I pulled myself up from where she was kick-stabbing me with those stiletto heels and learned from what I had been through.
Part of what I learned is that some people are worthless, oxygen-wasting old bags of bones, but at least I learned something.
My first real relationship was a major influence for me as well. For the first time, I went against what my parents wanted. I dated someone older who knew more about the world’s ways than I did. As a sheltered, newly-turned-17-year-old girl, dating a 24-year-old man was an eye-opener.
We were together for three years, and he suddenly stopped calling.
After we had gotten engaged the year before.
And were supposed to be planning a wedding.
Yep. He was a winner.
You have no idea what a crumbling pile of relationship rubble I had to crawl from just to be able to function. I was depressed that we weren’t together and obsessed with finding out why. He wouldn’t take my calls. He wouldn’t reply to my leters. After three years of struggling to be together and overcoming barriers that would’ve caused many people to give up, he acted like none of it had ever happened. I learned a lot about myself and the person I wanted to be in a relationship by being with him. Not all of it was good or easy, but it was valuable. All these years later, I am overwhelmed with joy when I realize what a bullet I dodged by not marrying him.
A couple of years later, I met my first husband who turned out to be a lying cheater who only used me for my ability to finance his new trucks and keep his house clean. Seventeen hellacious months after we married, we were divorced. There were so many red flags that should’ve tipped me off that he wasn’t right for me. His first wife even called me and told me what to watch for so I would know when his cheating began, but I was young and thought I could make things work if I just loved him enough.
That relationship taught me that you can never make someone love you no matter how hard you try, but it also taught me that people will surprise you – when I was about to marry my second husband, I got an email from Prince Not-So-Charming telling me he took responsibility for the failure of our marriage. After all the times he had tried to pin it on me, he finally admitted he had messed up, told me I was one of the best things that had ever happened to him, apologized for how he treated me and said he wanted to make sure my new marriage wasn’t affected by any lingering doubts I had about who was at fault for the demise of our marriage.
(For the record, I had no lingering doubts, but it was still nice to hear.)
Oh, the list could go on and on…
– The boyfriend who bounced in and out of my world on whatever whim suited him at the moment taught me to say what I wanted and to know when to let go.
– Sarah’s biological donor taught me to call for help sooner, to limit the number of chances I give people who don’t do anything to earn them and to realize that shared DNA is not enough of a reason to try to make someone be a Daddy when they don’t want to be.
– The girl who ingratiated herself into my Life and tried to SingleWhiteFemale me out of the picture taught me to detect the scent of crazy from a mile away.
Hopefully, you get the picture. Sometimes the people who influence you don’t deserve the right to cast a shadow anywhere in your world. Don’t let them.
Girls, no matter who ends up on your list of people who influenced you, remember this – your Mama and Daddy will always love you, no matter who you allow in your Life. Every person you meet has the potential to influence you in some small or possibly immeasurable way. It’s up to you to determine to what extent you will grant them permission to continue that influence.
The foundation for this blog is to give people their flowers while they are alive. All too often, we wait until people are gone from this Earth to talk about what they mean to us. We send beautiful bouquets of flowers to the funeral home, and we comment on how many arrangements are at the gravewide. Perhaps we should spend more time giving people their thanks and flowers while they’re still here to enjoy them instead of saving them to show other people after the person is gone.
For what it’s worth, this is my list. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you. Each of these people have meant something to me, and I could go on for a thousand more pages listing others who have also had some sort of influence.
My brother who always makes me want to live up to the image of the person he seemed to think I was when we were growing up.
My grandparents who shared a rich family history with me.
Aunts and uncles who made me laugh and treated me like their own.
Elvin Kirk who reminded me that letter writing was a dying art.
Heather Nicole who showed us all that no matter what barriers Life puts up, a beautiful spirit can break down any door.
Thomas Lavin who laparoscopically changed my Life and granted me the physical power to give birth to my beautiful daughers.
Musicians who released just the right song just when I needed to hear it.
Don Ward who made me feel like an important member of the choir, even though I couldn’t sing well if my existence depended on it.
Melissa Clevenger who gave me a great deal on my first decent camera and opened my eyes to a love of photography that I never knew I had.
Allen Ginsberg whose poem about a supermarket introduced me to a different style and to the first time I had ever seen the “F” word in print.
I’ll stop there. You get the point.
There is truly no end to this list. No matter how hard I try or how long I sit here, the list could go on indefinitely. Thank you for listening and for allowing me the chance to help you understand some of the people who helped shape me into the mother you know me to be. For good, bad or ugly, I am who I am because of each of these people, and I am blessed by their influence on my Life.