Celebrating Strength!

           We knew we
were close to our destination.  Streets
followed names such as Bayou Drive…buildings were constructed on stilts around
the levees…restaurants utilized vintage boats for dining rooms….and the air was
thick with humidity and odor.  The odor
hung everywhere …the hotel, Starbucks…everywhere… as if the entire area was
sitting inside of an auto mechanic’s garage. 
In the dark, the oil refineries glisten as Oz’s Crystal City does, but
they represent reality not fiction.  This
is where you find hard working people performing tough, unpleasant jobs to put
food on the family table.  Most are proud
of their work and happy to have a job.
         This is where
I really met Linda, but sadly, it was to say goodbye.  I actually met Linda in June 2011 when she
came to watch my daughter marry her son. 
As most weddings are, it was a whirlwind weekend with little time to
really sit and get to know one another. 
I knew she had not been well and she leaned heavily on me as we walked
the steps together to light the Unity Candle for the joining of our two
families.  Yet, in that brief moment, I
held a strong hand and sensed the pleasure she had to see her son wed.  At that brief moment, we were mothers and
women rejoicing together.  
        But, this week, through the eulogies of her
children, I met an amazing woman.  She
was strong, tough, courageous, determined, calloused in some ways by life, yet
tender in her love for family.  Here are
some moments in her life which are now seared into mine:
         As a very
young woman, she was waitressing near the ship channel.  One night a crew of Greek sailors came in for
dinner.  They were taken with her
European-type beauty and asked if she were Greek.  “Maybe so.” 
They invited her to join the crew as a ship’s cook and go with them to
Greece.  She ran home and told her mom
that she had a new job and was on her way. 
This lead to adventures around Greece and the Mediterrean.  I now understand my son-in-law’s desire to
have adventures and see the world.
       But, an abusive marriage would leave her with
four young children on her own.  In and
out of the women’s shelters and a beat up trailer, she provided for them
through hard labor at a chemical plant. 
No, not answering phones as many women did.  Linda would put on a hard hat and steel toed
boots to do the traditional man’s labor at the plant.  During cold weather, she had to stuff
newspaper into the boots to keep her feet warm.
        This motivated her though to go to college and
become a nurse.  She taught her children
the importance of hard labor and of an education.  She taught them to love history and
poetry.  She taught them to love family
and making right decisions.
        Fortunately, she found love in a good man and he
not only embraced her…but also embraced her children and became DAD.
       Linda would live to beat Stage Four Cancer.  Then, a heart attack literally took her
life.  The family was told she was
gone.  But, as nurses moved her body, her
heart began to beat and she returned to live for years.  That was when her youngest son would record
important answers to questions like, “What would you do different with raising
your kids.” He played those answers from her own voice at the funeral.  He also read the letter he wrote after he
became an attorney about the lessons and encouragement she gave him which led
him to law school.
  Linda is the kind of
woman this blog is all about.  Women of
strength and dignity.  I met her for the
first time this week, but I was left longing for more time and regretting we
did not get it.  She was strong beyond
belief and her children and grandchildren will also have that strength for
their legacy.  I celebrate it, and I celebrate Linda and her family.  This strength and determination to persevere
no matter the odds is what makes me so blessed to be a woman.
How do you define strength? 
Do you believe you have it inside of you?  If you need someone to come alongside of you,
email me at over50feeling40@gmail.com.  I will be happy to give encouragement. No
matter what you face….you have the strength!
Red jacket: Marshalls
Cynthia Rowley Grey T: Marshalls
Black knit skirt: Talbots
Bandolino Flats: DSW
Necklace and Bracelet: Stein Mart
Have a wonderful Thursday and make sure you visit the
talented bloggers of KATIE’S FAVORITE THINGS BLOG HOP on Thursday!
Thursday Favorite Things

21 Comments

  1. Linda left an amazing legacy for her children that can't be bought with money. I want to strive to be a better wife, mother and person after hearing her story. Thank you for opening up your heart and sharing her story.

  2. Wow – it just shows we so often don't know people's stories…But what courage and strength she showed! Terrific post – I want to be strong like her. And to be known to be strong! Blessings and hugs to you – Linda left a legacy for all of us!

  3. A lovely tribute to a strong woman. I have known a few very brave and strong women. I try to remember their words and advice in difficult times. I have been living very dark times in the last year and hold on by a thread sometimes. But, the advice of wiser people than I and the hope of acceptance keeps me grounded. This post will be part of that strength. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Pam that was such a beautiful tribute. Sometimes it is hard to see the beauty of a life that crosses our path until we see them through someone else's eyes. She sounds wonderful and much like my mother. This story choked me up, thinking about the hardships she overcame to become someone her children would look up to as a source of inspiration. Thank you for sharing…now please pass the tissues……..

  5. Oh Pam! I'm sitting here in Starbucks with tears in my eyes! This morning started off with me taking a bath in self-pity….I needed this!!! Your tribute to Linda made me wish I had known her! What an incredible woman she was….and IS as she lives on in her children. Big hugs and lots of love to you my sweet friend! ~Serene

  6. So inspiring, Pam. I'm sorry for the loss, but so gratified that you had the chance to truly "meet" this woman in all her glory.

    As for your final question, I've never considered myself strong. Yet I know that going forward, anyway, is exactly the thing that makes me stronger than I know. I think this is true of all of us.

  7. Honestly, I have been weak for years. I am just now becoming strong again and I believe embracing my style and dressing up has made me stronger. A woman has to go through it to understand it, but there is something about taking the time to dress and make ourselves look and feel good that builds upon itself and over time we become strengthened by it. That has been my experience the last six months. 🙂

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