Happy Mother’s Day to all today. As I’ve pondered this subject, faces and names of many influential mother figures from my past surfaced this week, so I’d like to offer a thought here. The famous African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” states the importance of a community of loving people to raise a child; therefore, it takes several mothers to raise a child.
Meet the many cheerleaders I had throughout my life who helped me become the woman I am today!
As a child, my other mother was Clara Warner, our next-door neighbor who had three boys. She could fashion long curls so beautifully Shirley Temple’s stylist would have been jealous. My mom could not! So, Clara became my surrogate mother and hair stylist, and we all won. Clara enjoyed playing with me as her “little doll,” I enjoyed the stylish long curls, and Mom loved what Clara did so effortlessly.
Clara lived close and was married to Dad’s best friend, so we spent a lot of time together. During the 50s and 60s, smoking cigarettes had a totally different connotation. I remember watching her smoke cigarettes and thinking she looked so elegant and sophisticated. Mom didn’t smoke. So, I bought candy cigarettes (yes; they had candy cigarettes), and I’d pretend I was Clara smoking! I never became a smoker, but I still remember how I admired Clara!
Another childhood mother came softly to mind this week—Millie Sheldon, our babysitter. Until the day she died, she called me “Laredo,” emphasizing the “O” at the end, and I thought nothing of it. My parents danced often on Saturday nights. Sometimes we went with them when it was appropriate, but other times Mille stayed with my brother and me. She joined us in watching our traditional TV shows for a Saturday night: Lawrence Welk and then the weekly boxing matches. I remember her as strict but loving.
In high school, one of my teachers/mother figures was Margie Miller. She taught typing, journalism and PE. She also was the cheerleading/pep club sponsor, so we spent a lot of our free time with her on long bus trips all over southern Colorado for the sport of the season: baseball in the spring and basketball in the winter.
During my school years, she said nothing about my writing (I was on the staff of our school newspaper for several years and was the editor for two years). Many years after my graduation, Margie and her husband, Lonnie, returned for one of our school reunions during the summer. They came up to our house during a break in activities, and she said she wanted a copy of the first book I published. This comment shocked me because I hadn’t thought of writing during this part of my life. Many years later in 2014, when I published my first book, This Tumbleweed Landed, I sent her an autographed copy.
In 1973, I married Dave Prichard and inherited a wonderful mother-in-law, the woman who became my spiritual mother. She worked at their family’s church, St. Philip and St. James Episcopal Church in Denver, Colorado, as a counselor and Sunday school teacher. She took me under her wing and raised me up in the Episcopal church. I quote her still today, forty-eight years later.
I loved her God, a forgiving God, and her view of Jesus. She saw Jesus as a personal friend and spent daily time with Him, reading her Bible and daily devotionals. I have continued that practice to the present.
We spent a lot of time together as a family, and I couldn’t get enough of her. When Dave and I divorced, Mom and I stayed connected for years, but time and distance ended that amazing relationship.
In 1992, another mother-in-law came into my life, Betty Daunt, when I married her son, Mike. We hit it off immediately. She introduced me to the healing power of massage, being a massage therapist. So quickly, I set up a monthly appointment with her and kept it up after Mike and I divorced until just a couple years ago when she had to stop because of health issues.
In 1993, I suffered a horrible virus which attacked all my major organs. The western medical world couldn’t diagnose my problem. They sent me home with a list of diseases it wasn’t, and I think to die. Betty stepped in and scheduled weekly massage appointments for me for free. That coupled with acupuncture and herbs, done by my brother-in-law’s partner, I recovered. I don’t think I would have survived that horrible episode without the massages and the acupuncture.
After Mike and I divorced, Betty and I continued our relationship, and it carries on still to today.
A friend I worked with who went through all my marriages said once, “Larada, you know how to pick out mother-in-laws, not husbands!” And I would agree!
MY THREE AUNTS
Throughout my life, I had aunts who touched me deeply! Dad’s sister, Helen, showed me how a woman could balance family and work. I enjoyed her enthusiastic personality, and my brother and Mom often said I reminded them of her. Helen died way too young in her mid-50s, so I lost many valuable years with her.
Mom’s sister, Willie, played a pivotal role in my life, taking part in all my major life events. I giggled often at her sense of humor and mischievous twinkle in her eyes. After Dad and Uncle Hughie died, Mom and Aunt Willie spent as much time together as possible. After Mom died, I visited Aunt Willie in Pueblo, Colorado monthly and relished her fun story-telling talent. She died at 98 years old—I miss her daily.
Dad’s youngest sister, Joan, is nearing 93 years old. She has been a strong cheerleader of mine my complete life. I grew up near Aunt Joan and spent holidays and much of childhood with her and her family. She stands on the edge of many of my childhood memories.
Teresa Larada Horner-Miller—I carry both of my grandmothers’ names. Dad’s mother, the Larada in my life, lived in the same town as us, so I saw her daily, and she became one constant in the fabric of my life. Mom’s mother, the Teresa in my life, lived away from us during my childhood, so we had the joy of visiting her. They moved close later in my life, so she became another steadfast woman.
Finally, I saved the best for last—my mother! Mom loved to play with my brother and me as children. She celebrated our lives through birthday parties and holiday. Throughout my entire life, we were close and did so much together! After Dad died, I visited her often, and we traveled together enjoying several major trips. I loved her sense of humor and fun-filled attitude towards life. When she died, I felt like I not only lost Mom but my best friend.
So, how many mothers does it take to raise a child? As you can see, many mother figures played an important part in my complete life. Did you have other mother figures in your life? If so, who were they and what did they do? (Scroll down a little farther below to make comments!)
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