I first published a variation of this blog post a couple of year’s ago. With my mother’s passing yesterday afternoon following a valiant and difficult struggle with Alzheimer’s, it seemed appropriate to post it again to honor her for all of her accomplishments, not the least of which was being a great mother and grandmother.
My mother celebrated her 87th birthday earlier this year. She was fortunate to grow up among the first full generation of women that had the right to vote and for whom career opportunities were expanding beyond the previous limitation of teachers, secretaries, and sales clerks. Honestly, while growing up, I never thought of her as a trailblazer (or an entrepreneur). As a kid, she was just mom. But, now with the benefit of time and hindsight, I am extremely proud of her accomplishments, including:
- Co-founder of the Indiana University chapter of the Alpha Phi sorority.
- Graduate of Indiana University shortly after the conclusion of World War II.
- Started her business career as a secretary at a large corporation.
- Co-founder and partner in a women-owned wicker antique business that operated successfully for more than two decades.
- Volunteered at a rehabilitation center several times per week for many years.
- Active investor in stocks and bonds, as well as in real estate.
- Purchased and refurbished a cottage on Lake Wawasee and a condominium in Naples, Florida.
- Built the foundation for many family traditions, particularly our gatherings at the cottage on Lake Wawasee for the past 30 years.
- Active member in Stansfield Circle – a social service non-profit.
- Active member of other community organizations in central Indiana.
- Avid golfer and angler.
- Volunteered to be one of the test patients for the phase three trials of a new Alzheimer’s medicine.
- Served as a board member of a family foundation.
- Wife of my father for 41+ years and of my stepfather for 17+ years.
- Mother of two sons, stepmother of a son and two daughters, grandmother of five, step-grandmother of seven, and step-great grandmother of three.
Often, we tend to think of trailblazers as those who are nationally recognized leaders or who are founders in their field of endeavor. While this is certainly true, it overlooks the fact that each and every one of us can be a trailblazer in our own way. We may not get the notoriety, press, or the hoopla, but we can make a difference and serve as a role model for others. For:
- each time one of us tries something new or different;
- each time one of us tries something outside our comfort zone;
- each time one of us rethinks and revises our pre-conceived notions;
- each time one of us breaks out of the mold; or
- each time one of us challenges the norms,
then we too have become a trailblazer.
I am proud to say my mother has been a trailblazer and a great role model for other women. She was successful during a time in our nation’s history when women did not have the expanding range of educational and professional opportunities that are available in the 21st century. Thank you, mom. I love you dearly and will miss you very, very much!