Most of us have been lucky enough to have mentors in our lives who taught us things that we would not have known or discovered on our own. I have been lucky enough to have had some great mentors in my life, most of them old and wise women. My parents and grandparents mentored me of course, and there were others.
I have written about Miss Gladys Churchill before, but wish to mention her again. She was affectionally called “Churchy.” When I was ten years old, she was in her mid-eighties. She never married, never had children; she was what they called back then a “maiden lady.” She was quite a presence in my life. I was fascinated by her and her stories of her own growing up, and about her job for many years as a secretary.
When I would go visit her, most of the time was spent with her talking to me about her life and all her experiences. She gave me a perspective on women that no one else could. Churchy was far older than my oldest relative, and it was interesting to hear how life was back in her day.
From her, I learned many life lessons. Although I was raised to have good manners, including respecting my elders, I learned a whole new set of rules from her. She had a great deal to say about ladies and “lady-like behavior.” Once when I visited her one day, I proudly showed her my first purse. As I listened to her talk, I started fishing around in it to find something I wanted to show her.
Churchy said gently, “a lady never roots in her purse.” I have never forgotten that, and to this day, I do all my purse “rooting” at home. She also told me about modesty and how important it was. This must have rubbed off on me, because when I was a teenager, I was probably the one who still wore slips under dresses and skirts. Churchy was impressed by this and famously said to my mother “such modesty! You must be so proud.”
Churchy also taught me about picking up the little messes before they become big ones. She used to say, “you’d be surprised at how much easier it is when you get the little stuff up!” To this day, I run around the house picking up cat hair, bits of paper, rug fuzzies and so on. It makes me smile thinking of her.
It is those wonderful mentors in our lives that help shape who we are and what we do in this life. I am grateful to the heart for all of them, young and old. We don’t get through this life alone, and our mentors are angels who help us on our way.
Thank you, Churchy.