Gather 'round, kiddies. I have a story to tell.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was surrounded by a great, big 'ol world. How was she to find her way? She could stumble along, all on her own, and make her mistakes then learn from them, which many times she did.
But, luckily, she was not alone. There were others who were once as she was, small, scared, and full of determination. There were women who would be her role models, her guides, her voices of reason, and the spark of every fire she would ever light. These women, who she would pay tribute to one day on her blog on the very occasion of International Women's Day, would serve as her strength, her inspiration, her very heart.
How to give thanks for all the strong women in her life? She had only words and deeds to convey her thankfulness.
So thank you, mother, for just being yourself, as so much of you is part of who I now am. You were the best anyone could ever ask for.
Thank you, Grandma Damon, for reminding me every day what love is all about, unselfish, unbridled and unending.
Thank you, Grandma Mozingo, for sharing your warmth, your humor, your poker tips, and your son, my father, with me.
Thank you, Nannie, for being the best great-grandmother in the world. You were simply the loveliest lady I have ever known. I will forever miss your pancakes and our times spent together.
Thank you, cousin MaryBell, for your independence and your sparkle, which always fascinated and entertained me. You never got tired of this little girl asking you to do your "motorcycle" impersonation during Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime" when you came to visit, and your bachelorettehood, which came from your being your own woman, stamped an indelible impression upon me at an early age.
Thank you, Patti Ann Thorson. Mayonnaise to my Mustard. Zep to my Ozzy. I would not have made it through junior high, and frankly, the rest of my life, without you. I treasure you as I would have treasured my own sister. You are the best part of me.
Thank you, Ms. Iris Ashley, Ms. Vivian Walker, Ms. Singleton, Ms. Choice, and Ms. Agnes Jewett. From my first year in school as a kindergartner to my college years, your strength, dignity, and beauty as strong black women who taught, served as principal, and touched my life as friends and mentors inspired me to strive the rest of my life to be half the women you are. I'm still working on that.
Thank you, cousin Frances, for you were the scientist I so admired when I was too young to even realize what an impact you would have upon my life. In your white lab coat, you would hoist me up to the microscope as a child and let me have a peek into the rest of my life. You are the giant shoulders I stand upon each and every day, and I pay tribute to you with each tube of blood I analyze.
Thank you, Bharti Sodha, for your patience and tutelage as a senior lab tech as you showed by your example exactly what a good med tech should be. You eventually trusted me to run your chemistry section during your absence, and you instilled in me unshakeable confidence and faith. You taught me customs of your beloved India and inspired me to reach beyond my comfortable borders of Texas to see a larger world out there. Because of you, I have a greater appreciation of diversity.
Thank you, Dr. RoseMary Stanford, for your patience and your tutelage. It is because of you I was able to excel in my education. You saw something in me I did not even know existed, and because you brought it out into the light, I accomplished more than I ever thought possible.
Thank you, Billie Jean King, for your decisive victory in the match against Bobby Riggs in the Houston Astrodome in 1972. I was lucky enough to remember the excitement my mother felt. Your victory was a victory for all women.
Thank you, Gloria Steinem, for your tireless efforts in fighting for women's rights. You laid so much of the groudwork necessary for all women to overcome. And we've come a long way, baby.
Thank you, Mary Tyler Moore. How lucky was I to grow up in a time when I was surrounded by such strong women, both in my real life, and on the television set? Your fearlessness in your career has inspired and strengthened me. Your character, Mary Richards, showed me that a girl really can make it after all and be her own woman.
Thank you, Janis Joplin, for never compromising. You sang your heart out, and we all took a little piece of it. Your music will always live.
Thank you, Alanis Morissette, for recording the soundtrack to my life. You were the one who got me through 1994, and I thank you for your Jagged Little Pill more than you will ever know.
And then there was Bea. As Maude. As Dorothy Zbornak. As a golden thread that would weave through my life from beginning to end. It broke my heart when she passed away just this last year, as she showed me what a real woman should be. Intelligent, talented, and beautiful, she was the whole package. I will always treasure her.
Finally, the truth is out there. And that truth is that I couldn't be who I am today without the help of my TOPS sisters. Ladies, you know who you are. You are my strength, my rock, my inspiration. You are beautiful inside and out, and I will always need you.
And so it is that I reflect upon the women who have made my life better. Without them, the little girl would not have such a wonderful fate. Without them, the little girl's life would have been less colorful, less beautiful. Without them, the little girl would still be a little girl.