As promised in my introduction to my Word of the Year bit last week, Impact, I am making a list of twenty people who have made a positive impact on my life. I will share ten this week and ten next week. They aren't in any particular order besides choosing my parents to begin with since they are how I began life on this earth.
1. My parents. They made me and gave me a foundation of the gospel and a respectable heritage to grow from.
2. My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Mannion. She helped me soar. I didn't realize it at the time, but having quiet reading time in the corner while most other children were still learning to read made all the difference for me.
3. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Jarrett. Learning how to make butter in class and getting a pile of happy birthday letters from every child in class made a great impression on my young mind. I saved those letters and have them to this day.
4. My second grade teacher, Ms. Lorence (turned Mrs. Misday the following summer). She taught me beginning cursive and how to love the Pittsburg Steelers. Both have helped me in my journey thus far.
5. My (not so) little brothers—all five of them. Each of these guys has helped me feel important at different times in my life. Without them, I don't think I would be the say things like it is person that I am either. I'll never forget how they just let me take care of going through my mom's side of the bed after she died. I needed that so much, and they just let me sort through it all and take my time.
6. My BFF forever, Melissa. I don't know what I did to deserve someone to love me through so much dumb crap over the years, but somehow I qualified. There are too many times to count or write about here, but I think that just knowing she thinks I'm awesome helps me through some of my loneliest moments.
7. My eleventh and twelfth grades English teacher, Mrs. Martin. This teacher never let me slide. She would write in her blood red ink, "I know you can do better than this, Laura," and give me a bad grade on a decent by someone else's standards paper because she knew I could do better. I hated her for it then, but deep down, I respected her for it. I am that type of teacher now, and I owe her for that unwavering teacherly love that expects the best from each student. That bar she made me reach for was part of what kept me grounded during a terrible time in my life.
8. My cousin, Sara. This one is hard to write about because we don't talk anymore. I don't understand entirely why, so maybe that's why it's hard to write about her. Regardless, she made a very positive impact on my life as my very first best friend in the whole world. She and I were inseparable at every family function our two families attended, and what added to the frequency was that our moms were very close in age sisters who loved to spend time with each other. We would laugh and make mischief with our siblings and other cousins. She would send me giant boxes of hand-me-downs. We were pen pals for many, many years. I loved her so much and looked up to her so much. She was a cooler than cool California girl, so I learned style and how to be around boys from her. I saw her shine with so many talents, and I feel blessed to have had that time to be so close to someone so wonderful.
9. Across the street neighbors, Lou and Peggy. There was this couple across the street growing up who would let us come over and swim each summer—all summer long. Unless they were having a party with their friends, their pool was open like a rec center to us. My first memory of swimming was in that pool even though I don't recall learning to swim but just being able to. So anyway. I think I remember them with such fondness because they were always so sweet to me and my little brothers. They were bikers with tattoos all over who smoked and drank a lot, but to me, all I saw was Lou and Peggy who came and rescued my little brother off a rusty nail when my parents were gone, and the Peggy who helped do my hair before my carpool picked me up for ballet class, and the sweet people who let us swim all day long in their pool across the street from our house. I wish I knew their last name and where they moved to, so I could thank them.
10. My divorce attorney, Wendy. Divorce changes people. It's like a hurricane/earthquake/tsunami/flood/drought/famine for the soul. And I had Wendy to help me through that terrible time. I prayed to know who to hire, you know. I did. I prayed and pondered over the list of attorneys on the state bar website. And I found Wendy. I don't think I can ever repay her for how hard she worked for an unemployed, no longer a stay home mom, student, single mother. She fought for my family and me like I had all the money in the world, and then even gave of her friendship and kind heart. One Christmas when things were just dragging on with no relief in sight, and things had been just hard news after hard news, she bought annual passes for each of us to the local water park/fun center/discount movie theater, so we could have somewhere to go to get out of the house without costing money. I won't ever forget how much she helped us in ways outside of her paid role in my life. She became my friend.