A Lighter View…Extraordinary ordinary women

If you want to be blessed, find good women friends and a lot of them. This became my mantra when I moved away from Rockford and my girlfriends. Saying good-bye to these women, who had rejoiced over my successes and restored me when I suffered failures, was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Over the years, I’ve learned that life is like a book. Each chapter opens with you embarking on a new adventure and then, quite unexpectedly, it ends. It’s not like there aren’t any warning signs, but for some strange reason you rarely see it coming. During these times, it’s your female friends that keep you afloat. They help you travel through the book of life and are your bridge between the chapters.

My own book begins with my birth into a family with limited financial resources and a struggling sense of desperation when it came to interpersonal relationships. By the time I’m 6, I’ve managed to catch on fire, rupture my spleen, and crack my skull. But life isn’t all bad; I’ve miraculously escaped being eaten by sharks or appearing on the Jerry Springer Show. I am eager to start kindergarten, where I discover that I’m not only poor, but I am also unattractive, too. There I meet my first girlfriend, Judy, and we share our dreams of becoming Cinderellas.

By fifth grade, my parents’ fighting has escalated, ending in divorce, and my father gets custody of me. But society doesn’t accept an 11-year-old girl being raised without a mother, even if you are Cinderella. And once my classmates’ parents discover who I am, my friends disappear. Everyone except for Melody. She helps me cook and clean and do the laundry. But most importantly, she makes me laugh when I want to cry.

At 17, I enter nurses training and meet the love of my life. We are married for just one month before I have to leave for pediatric rotation in Milwaukee. And, just like in the earlier chapters of my life, I am still poor—too poor to afford a bus ticket home to see my husband or to call him. My nights are spent walking with my roommate Gail and telling her how much I miss my husband. She listens until we become too tired to walk anymore, and then we go back to the dorm so I can repeat myself. Gail is a great listener.

The chapters of my life start to fly by faster now. I am pregnant with my first child and on the way to the hospital to give birth, I realize a new chapter is about to begin. I resent this change. “Do you realize,” I cry angrily to my husband, “that from now on there will always be three Morrises in the car instead of two?” My girlfriend, Sharon, is the delivery room nurse. She hands me my daughter, Leslie, for the first time, and all three of us cry. Five years later, Leslie is starting kindergarten, and this time I cry because I don’t want to let go of her. I’m not ready for this chapter to end.

Two more children are born, a dream house is built, and I quit working as a nurse to become a writer. As the pages of my life are flipping by, I am blessed by friends whom I call “extraordinary ordinary women.” These are women whom I’ve met while waiting at soccer fields and baseball diamonds, at work, church and in my neighborhood. They are the ones who told me there is hope for a rebellious son and better days for another son with learning difficulties. When I considered leaving my husband, they reminded me of all of his good qualities, and when my daughter left for college, they reassured me she would return as my closest friend. And they were always right.

These women have helped me change flat tires, wallpaper kitchens, and encouraged me to write. They never noticed my lack of fame or fortune and said it didn’t matter what others thought because they had faith in me. The years had taught these extraordinary ordinary women that each of us possesses inner riches, and they were my nuggets of gold.

Now a new chapter has begun, but my friends are not forgotten. Throughout my life, I’ve known incredible women who’ve shown me how to dream, laugh, listen, encourage, and grab onto change with exuberance. And with this move, I’ve gained even more girlfriends—a molecular biologist, a business owner, a publisher, a teacher, and a humanitarian named Pam who has a mind like a Rolodex. I don’t know how this chapter will end, but I’m blessed to be going through it with a group of extraordinary ordinary women like these. I truly am Cinderella.

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