What did I do to deserve this? I always thought I was a good listener. People have always wanted to share their loves and losses with me. I've heard many secrets and they were always safe with me. I've been more than willing to share my limited wisdom but always in words that would help. I love to encourage, to give hope, to empower. I guess I'm what you'd call a positive person. No Pollyanna here; I'm a realist. I see things for what they truly are but always find a ray of hope in any misfortune. Maybe it's my faith in God. I've been a born-again Christian since I was a youngster of 10 or 11. My whole life was centered around the church when I was a child. The church was only 3 doors away and there seemed to be always something going on there. I loved to sing. I was in the youth choir and it was great fun to visit other churches to sing for them. I was very fond of the pastor's spinster daughter and she treated me in a special way. She led the choirs, took me places and taught me to play the piano. I only had a few lessons. I don't think we could afford the lessons. We couldn't afford much in those days. My mother worked as a grocery checker and Daddy worked sometimes. But mostly Daddy drank a lot of wine and he was sick a lot. I remember him most sitting or lying on the couch. But he loved me a lot. I was his only child and he truly adored me. I always knew that Mother was too busy to love us much. She was a strong woman, capable of handling whatever came along, and a lot of difficult times came along in her life, but she survived each one even stronger yet.
Mom definitely was a good listener. She was the person that everyone came to with their problems. She was happy to listen and to give advice. She was wise beyond her years. Her life was never easy and she learned to take care of herself at an early age. She encouraged others not to wallow in their suffering, but to be strong and empowered. I'm sure she prayed many a prayer for those she counseled. Yes, she was a positive person. She was the one with cancer, yet she was the one who encouraged the rest of the family be positive and not defeated. Her faith was a private matter. She went to church occasionally, mostly just on Easter Sunday. She did encourage my brother and I to go to Sunday school though, and I remember helping the teacher teach a third grade class at our local neighborhood church, where my brother and I walked on Sunday mornings. Later when I was 15 I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior on Easter Sunday when 4 generations of us women attended Van Nuys Baptist Church. I too sang in the high school choir and visited churches all over California to sing. I joined a small Christian band and we sang on Sunday afternoons at convalescent homes in the San Fernando Valley.
The first photo above is mom's senior portrait taken in 1951. The next one is her and I when I was about 4 years old. The last photo was taken in 1980. I was 27. Next to me is my mom (Dolores Reina) who was 46, her mom (Helen Richardson) who was 72, and Helen's mom (Amanda Johnson) who was 100. Grandma Johnson lived to the ripe old age of 101, Grandma Helen lived to 89 and mom died too young at 58.