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International Women's Day

On this International Women’s Day, I wanted to share a bit about the woman who has been my greatest inspiration - my grandmother, Lila Dalphine Kinder.

My grandmother was a single mom, having divorced when my mother was still young.  Upon discovering that her husband had fathered two children by another woman, my grandmother became friends with the other woman.  In fact, she welcomed the children, their mother and other siblings into her family, helped raise them together, and ensured her kids had a relationship with their siblings.

When Patsy - the mother of my two aunts - passed away from cancer, my grandmother was at the hospital, saying goodbye to her friend and offering emotional support to her adult children.  

Growing up, I didn’t realize how unique our family dynamic was, likely because my grandmother made it all seem effortless.  

Throughout my life, my grandmother was another mom and my best friend.  I’ll never forget my childhood “pizza parties,” which consisted of my grandmother and I curled up on the couch, eating pizza and watching cartoons (especially Pink Panther) on TNT.  Her role became even more important when my parents divorced.

I drove my grandmother to the doctor’s office, when she got the news that she had stage 4 cancer.  I still have photos of the ducks we fed that morning, just before her appointment.  On the way home, we stopped by the diner - where my grandmother had been a waitress, until her health declined - for breakfast/lunch.  

Sitting in our little booth, a waitress - and one of my grandmother's friends - asked her what the doctor had said.  My grandmother calmly replied, “He said I’ve got cancer,” as she sipped her coffee.  The waitress responded with something along the lines of, I’d be home crying if they told me that.  In the same calm voice, my grandmother said “I could go home and cry, but I’d still have cancer.”

That was the kind of courage my grandmother displayed in every aspect of her life.  She never allowed fear to stop her from living or loving. 

Nearly eleven and a half years ago, she passed from cancer, surrounded by her kids (including my two aunts), grandkids and then last-surviving brother.  I had the difficult privilege of holding her hand, as she took her final breath.   

During the past 11+ years, not one day has gone by without me thinking about her and the example she set for our family.  Lila had a big sense of humor, an ever bigger heart and an attitude that could make a grown man quake in his boots.  She never backed down from a fight, but she also never let the opportunity to love pass her by.  

My entire outlook on life can be summed up in three simple words; “Live Like Lila.” 

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