While my mother is certainly the MOST influential person, the most inspirational woman I have ever encountered, I have been fortunate to have some truly awesome women in my life.
One of those women is my Great-Grandma Fincher.
She was 14 when she got married, never learned to drive, raised 5 children and cheated at marbles (otherwise known as parchesi).
And she called me Say-Rah.
Grandma Fincher was from rural Georgia, but she moved to California and then to Arizona, never once losing her accent or her ability to burn the crap out of fried okra or make the best tasting rice pudding you'd ever possibly have.
She was moody. She was funny. She worked in a Rubbermaid Factory. She loved all of her children equally, even when those children refused to love one another.
She was married to her husband for over seventy years, and in a photo from their 50th anniversary, that man is feeling her up. I asked my grandmother if that was a joke, a pose for the camera.
"Oh, no," she said, "Mother and Dad were always like that. They never stopped wanting to be around each other."
Now, that's the kind of marriage I want.
Through world wars, depression, moves across country and any number of other major life changes, my great-grandmother stood her ground. And she loved each and every person in her life.
Her hugs were genuine. Her smile was big. She would recognize the underdog and make sure he got extra love. She recognized that my dad got the short end of any bargain in his family, and she made sure that he knew how much she loved him.
Great-Grandma didn't finish high school, never got a college degree and never once legally drove a car.
But that woman held an entire world together, and she taught me, as a scraggly, scrawny, scrappy member of her family, that it's okay to be who you are, to never apologize for being yourself and that if you want a glass of Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill every night before bed, well, then, honey, you just go on and have one...or two.