over50feeling40: Celebrating Strength!
Fashion and Lifestyle Blog for women over 50 to help achieve strength, confidence, joy, inspiration, and, of course, head-turning personal style!

Sep 5, 2012

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. What an amazing woman. She sounds as though she lived life to the fullest and touched and inspired so many others. I'm so sorry for your family's loss.

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  2. So sorry for the loss to your family, Pam. Linda's stories will resonate with me for a long time, what a portrait in courage.

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  3. Wow, what an amazing story! Thanks for sharing this today, it's made me think about a few things in my own life.
    Visiting from Katherine's Thursdays Favorite Things Hop. Happy Thursday to you!

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  4. Thank you for this post. It has inspired me to make this day and those going forward different.

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  5. Pam, what an inspirational post.....your writing definitely puts things into perspective:)

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  6. What an inspiring and encouraging post! Linda sounds so much like my mom...

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  7. Thank you for this wonderful post. Very inspiring.

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  8. 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.

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  9. This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing!

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  10. It's a beautiful post that I know will touch everyone who reads it.

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  11. This was such a wonderful post, Pam and a true tribute to a fine, strong lady. Thanks you.

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  12. Love your blog - amazing post! thanks for sharing her story

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  13. 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!

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  14. 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.

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  15. 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........

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  16. wonderful and inspiring post. Thank you for sharing at the hop xo

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  17. 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

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  18. What a wonderful tribute post to Linda. She sounds like a remarkable woman.

    You look fab in the autumn colors. Orange is a wonderful color on you.

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  19. 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.

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  20. 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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Thanks so much for joining in our conversation today! I appreciate your time and love hearing from you!