For the past few days my brain has been flooded with memories... some when I am awake and others when I am asleep. I don't know what has prompted them, or even the relationship to all of them. Some are happy memories, and others are things I would rather not remember. It's funny how our minds work.... I often wonder if it is some sort of warning, if it is because I am going through things at the house, or if it really just is a coincidence.
I don't want to share all of the memories with you today, but I do want to talk about an important person in my life who has been in many of these memories. Her name is Frieda. Frieda was an amazing person in my life. She was my babysitter from the time I was very small. However, she was so much more than a babysitter and probably fell more into a grandmother role. Her grandchildren also went to her house during the day and were some of my very best friends growing up. Frieda was an amazing woman, she was very selective about the children she watched, and she was very strict with her rules. If you were in her home you behaved and there was no other option. However, as strict as she was you always knew she loved you. She taught me some amazing things like how to crochet, but more importantly she taught me to stand up for myself. She taught me the importance of hanging around good people, and not being influenced by what others wanted me to do.
Frieda overcame many obstacles in her life. She had severe diabetes that miracuously just went away. She had heart problems, and received a heart transplant during my early teen years. She lost her husband at an early age. So many struggles, but she always came out strong.
Frieda passed away a little over a week before I got married. I had received a letter from her just weeks prior and it is something I will always treasure. I also have the poncho she made me when I was little, and it is something I will never part with.
Although she passed away before I was married that was not the last time I saw her. When we were trying desperately to get pregnant with Ashley I was giving up hope. Then one night I had a dream and Frieda was sitting in heaven and all these kids were around her and she was reading them a story. I knew so vividly in the dream that some of the kids were going to be mine, and what I took away from the dream was that it was okay if i didn't have my baby right then because she was taking care of them for me until they came here. I stopped worrying that day and a while later found out I was pregnant. When Ashley was born I knew she was one of those lucky little ones who had spent some time with Frieda before she made her way to us.
This amazing woman taught me so many things, and I hope I can be half as strong as she was.
My brother sometimes jokes I need a bracelet that says "WWFD" to stand for What Would Frieda Do? and remind me not to let others push me around.
Frieda was a huge John Wayne fan. When I first started teaching I wanted to decorate my room in a cowboy theme. I looked everywhere for something John Wayne related and one day my parents found a tin sign with his picture. This picture hangs in my classroom. People look at it everyday and think it is just part of my theme, but it is so much more than that. It reminds me to stay strong like she was, and that she is always there with me.
I will never be able to see John Wayne, an Iris, or watch Price is Right without thinking of her. I look fondly at Sweet Gum trees and remember playing under the one in her front yard. I miss her deeply, but I know my life is better because she was in it, and because of that she is never really gone.