Our Cousin Gladyses and Aunt Bettys


Country MoonThere are always certain people who leave marks on our lives, some more profoundly than others. These special people shape our lives in ways that we never imagined.

Many times, at this time of year when we reflect on everything and everyone that we are thankful for, naturally the first people that come to mind are our immediate family and close friends whom we interact with most every day. But, this year two very special ladies come to mind who influence every day of my life. Ironically, one is from Jim’s family and one is from Ron’s. Then there is my Aunt Sharlene whom I’ll talk about later because she truly is in a category all her own.

Jim’s “cousin” Gladys came into my life quite unexpectedly one year. When we went back to Pennsylvania one time, he said he wanted to stop and see his cousin Gladys who really wasn’t his cousin. Huh? As it turns out, she was really his second, or third cousin, sort of. We never really did sort it all out. What I do know is that she was a delightful lady in her 80’s at that time who, over the next few years, changed my world.

She still lived alone in the same farmhouse where she had lived with her husband and raised a family. She loved pizza and pop and told it like it was. She always greeted us with a big smile and a hug and never complained about her woes although she dealt with several health issues. She loved showing us pictures of her family and always proudly pointed out that, even though some of her kids went through divorces and changed husbands or wives, she didn’t change her walls. They proudly displayed pictures of the “kids, in-laws and outlaws” as she referred to the ex’s.

 Fiercely independent, she taught me that you can do anything if you have a strong enough will. Through the years I knew her, she demonstrated this over and over. When she broke her shoulder, she had trouble dressing but refused any help. One day I got the courage up and asked how she ever put her bra on. “I fasten it, lay it on the floor and then step into it and pull it up!”

But her greatest strength was her faith. It never waivered. Although she had gone through rough spots in her life, you never would have known because she always saw the good in people and the bright spots. She always said that is what God wanted her to do.

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