Over this past weekend, I was talking with a friend I have known over 40 years. Yes, we met when I was a teenager.
As we were talking about our life’s paths, she asked, or wondered aloud, how we had overcome the circumstances of our childhoods. We both grew up poor and experienced what many would consider severe trauma. And yet, we went on to leave our hometowns, get college degrees, and move into the ranks of the middle class. Part of why was taking education seriously, a whole lot of grit and determination, and meeting great people along the way.
For me, there have been numerous people who have come and gone throughout my life, short periods and long ones, who have influenced and motivated me to be the best person I can be.
As I wrote that last line, so many names flooded my mind. Neighbors like the Draper’s, the Coen’s, and the Pinkerton’s. People from the Kingdom Hall like the Cooleys and the Benyi’s. Teachers and principals like Ms. Weber, Mr. Tong, and Mr. Jarvis. Cousins like Becky and Cathy. Childhood friends like Gomer, Ron, Tom, and Teddy. Friends over the years, current and present, like Nancy, Steve, Jerry, Stephanie, Rowan, Donna, Peggy, and Roberta. Colleagues and bosses like Gregg, Diane, Tonya, Chris, Carole, Paula, Dwayne, Cole, and Jude. Professors like Beth, Dawn, and Vita. A plethora more of names and faces too numerous to write.
My siblings and other relatives have, of course, had a positive (and negative at times) impact on me. As have many of the pets I’ve had over the years.
Our four children, and our grandson, have forever changed my life. They have helped me see I can’t/don’t have control of everything, be able to experience the feeling of unconditional love, and to feel pride in them and their special gifts they bring to the world.
Then there are those, blood and not, who have been around for decades, one from the very beginning. They are my mom, Barb, Rob and Joe, and Lisa.
My mom has been there from the beginning. As a single mother of five, she has given me the gifts of charity, faith, love, perseverance, grit, tenacity, morals and ethics. She has also given me the power of wonder and independence.
Barb, the longest person in my life outside of family, 42 years and counting. Her gifts have been the ability to see, and show me, I have worth and vision. That I am somebody.
Rob and Joe, introduced to me by Barb, are whom I fondly call my two gay dads, have been in my life for 38 years. Their gifts have been to show me how to have pride in who I am, integrity, and the power and possibility of relationships.
Lisa, for whom we developed a mutual bond almost from the first time we met. Her gifts have been to show me the power of prayer, how to develop and use emotional intelligence wisely, the power of deep thinking and dialogue about tough issues, and to believe in myself as a leader.
And last, but most certainly, not least, my husband Richard. A man who came into my life 18 years ago, who parented four children with me, and who has continued to live up to his promise of our marriage vows and the deep profound commitment he has to me. His gifts have been plenty with the most puissant being his love of me when I fail and when I succeed, to be able to peel through the layers of my being and still stay with me, to know me and still find me worthy of being in his life, to push me out of my comfort zone, and to sincerely celebrate our lives together.
Every day I feel blessed to have known so many unique individuals, whether for a few short months, or for decades and counting. Hopefully I will continue to be blessed with many more, and my stalwarts will be around for decades more.
Who are your impactful people?