In my reflective paper, I expect going through the order of things in my life and talking about things that have been significant events in my life. The things that have molded me into the person I have developed into today. I plan to touch briefly on current events in my life that caused me to be a student here at Ashford. As well, I intend to touch on some current or recent events that are further defining the person I am. This will help me to transition into areas of my life that is my future. The things I expect accomplishing as well as my hopes and dreams for the future.
I grew up in East Texas and I am still in the general area today. I was born in the late 1950's; into an upper middle class southern family. To anyone who is similar in age and lives in the general vicinity would understand what that means. To be born into an upper middle class or upper class southern family carried with it certain expectations. Especially if you were born female, you were expected always to take a back seat to the males.
I was the older of two children born in my family. My mother would have been happy to not have had any more children. My father insisted that they would continue until a male heir was produced. My mother would talk of this often with me over the years and it is still told by me today. So I will share this story with you, as it is one the defining moments of my life. My mother used to tell me when she got pregnant that she and my father had selected names for the baby. When the baby was born they would name it Christina or Richard. My mother wanted a little girl. My father wanted a male heir. I was born prematurely, before my mother could make it out of the delivery room my father named me. He was disappointed that I was not the son he wanted, so he went to name me Patricia Anne after my mother. What makes this significant in my life is that to get back at my father, when my mother was told they were expecting another baby, she started planning her revenge. It has been relayed to me by several members of my family of what happened next. On the way to the delivery room my mother told them if it was not a boy to put in back in so it could cook a while longer. Because, she was not given the opportunity to name me Christina, while she was in the delivery unit she denied my father of the opportunity to name his son Richard. She named him James William Jr., after my father. This is how I learned to be independent in a southern family from my mom; she was a tenacious woman and I learned well from her that tenacity can take you a long way toward your goals.
At 45 years of age my mother then became gravely ill. As expected, it was my job as a female to take care of her. I did not mind, she was my best friend. I was engaged to be married when she became ill. As her condition continued to deteriorate, it became obvious that she was not going to get any better. My fiancé and I then decided to move our wedding plans up so that she could be there when we were married. We only gave my mother two days' notice of when we were going to be married. We knew if we gave her more notice she would turn it into a huge wedding. It was amazing what she managed to pull off in two days.
This was about the midpoint of her illness. So for the next year, I was with her constantly until she died. That required me to leave my five year old daughter with her new step dad for the first year of our marriage. My father and brother were totally absent from the scene. It was as if they ignored the problem it would go away. To say the least this caused my tenacious side to kick into full gear. I was going to be with her no matter, what came my way. I saw to it she got the best care available. This required moving her to a hospital in Galveston. So I just told my father, "Give me a credit card. I am taking her to a better hospital and you are paying my expenses". He looked at me funny and I was not very respectful. I simply stated, "If you cannot be bothered to take care of mom, you can at least pay the expenses I will incur being away from my own family. He was so surprised by my directness that he pulled out his wallet and immediately gave me his platinum Visa card. I told him that I was going to spend whatever was necessary to see to it that she got the best care and he had better not say a word about any money I spent. That was the first time; I ever spoke back to my father. It was the first of many times for me to stand up to him in the years to come.
I moved her to the medical center in Galveston where she could get some of the latest treatment for blood disorders. Periodically my mother would ask where dad was. I told her, "You know how he is, the business comes first". It would upset her, so I would go to the nearest phone and call my father. I would demand that he get down to Galveston, Mom wanted to see him. He was stubborn, but he found out that my tenacity far outweighed his stubbornness. It got very heated at times to the point of my swearing at him until he complied. This kind of thing happened at least once every three months, so my mom could see my dad. As a result, my father and I developed a very strained relationship. I did not care; I was doing it for my mom. When she took a severe turn for the worse I moved her to Baylor Medical Center in Houston. That was on Christmas Eve. I called my father and told him to meet me in Houston. He said, "he could not get away". I told him, you own the company and you can do whatever you like. I said, "Get your ass to Houston now! You are going to spend Christmas with your wife. He came to meet me at Baylor with a Christmas present in hand for my mother. Then, when he went to leave, to go back home, he did something that took me years before I could forgive him. He left without saying goodbye to her, and asked me to lie to her, and say he said bye, you just do not remember it. To say that I was angry was an understatement. From that point on, she spiraled in very quickly. On New Year's Eve day the doctors came to me and said, "You need to call the family she has very little time left". I called my husband first; I knew I needed back up. Then I called my mother's parents, knowing that they would want to see their only child before she died. Then I made the hardest phone call of all. How do you call a man and tell him that his wife is dying? So I called my dad and said, "The doctors say you need to come down here". He asked me, "why"? I said, "they just said you need to get here now". He responded with, "Why"? So I blew up. I stated, "If you do not get in your damn car now, and head this way you might not get here before she dies you son of a bitch", and I slammed down the phone. My husband got there, first and was the last person, she remembers taking to. She slipped into coma right after talking with him. Her parents made it there but she was comatose. My father and brother were the last to arrive.
My father suddenly developed a conscience. That did nothing but enrage me further. He wanted sympathy from me I went, ice cold. I told him, "Go home back to that business you love so much and leave me with my mom". He got what he deserved, I think. My husband was right by my side in support the whole way. My dad and brother got a room at the hotel and settled in. My grandparents sat with their daughter for many hours. I secured a room for them on my father's platinum card. When it came, time for supper, I took my grandparents out to eat at the most expensive restaurant, I could find and paid for it with my father's card. We returned to the hospital so they could see my mom again before getting them settled into their room at the hotel. I asked the nurse had my father and brother come by to visit while we were gone, I was told no. Jeff and I got my grandparents settled in and we went back to the hospital. We stayed until about 3:00 a.m. Then, I decided I needed to leave. I knew the time was close. The nurse asked, "are you sure you want to leave"? I told her that I had made a promise to my mother and if I stayed I was not sure I could keep that promise. I feared panicking at the last moment and asking them to do something. She made me promise not to let them hook her up to a lot of machines. We left and I said my goodbyes to my mom for I knew that would be the last time, I would see her alive.
Shortly after getting back to the hotel the phone rang. I knew what it was and did not want to answer it. My husband said, "go ahead honey, you have to". Sure enough it was the hospital and she had expired. So I walked down the hall to my father's room and knocked on his door. He and my brother were standing there staring at me. I searched for the words but they did not want to leave my lips. I looked at my husband, hoping he would do it for me. He just hugged me and said, "You can do this". So I bucked up and told my dad, "Mom just died". We stood there for what seemed like an eternity but it was only moments. He asked when we could go see her. I told him it would be several hours. They were going to clean her up and move her to a room so that the family could come in and see her one last time. Then I tried to keep the rest of the promise I made to my mother. She wanted them to do an autopsy on her so that they could learn from her death. She did not want her death to be meaningless. My father got mad and said, "I am not going to let them cut her all up". I said, "It is what she wanted". He said, "I do not care, it is not happening". So I called him a selfish bastard and walked off. My husband went to deliver the news to my mother's parents; he figured I had just been through enough. When we were allowed to see my mom, they all wailed and cried and I sat back in anger. Then my father looked at me and said, "make arrangements to get her home" and he left. By now my rage was full blown. I hugged my grandparents and told them I would see to it that she gets the best. So, I made the arrangements to get her back home, and we all proceeded to come back home. I bought her the finest Cherry wood casket, a beautiful pink chiffon dress, and the largest casket spray of pink roses I could get. I also purchased a standing easel, filled with pink roses and happily paid for it with my father's charge card. I purchased the most expensive pink granite headstone I could find and put it on his card. Then, I went to purchase a very matriarchal black dress and a suit for my husband and put it on my dad's card. I wrote her obituary, arranged the service, and all with no help from my father or brother.
It took me many years to get over all of that and it shaped my life for the next 25 years to come. It is the one event that has had the most effect on making me the woman I have become today. I was better able to accept my mother's death because I was with her all through her illness. I had the chance to say everything I needed to say to her before her passing. My father and brother still, 25 years later have a hard time talking about my mother, because they weren't there for her when she needed them.
Several years later my father remarried. I had some issues with it because it seemed, as if he was replacing my mother. However, I liked the woman he chose. It took her and me many years to become close. Now, we are very good friends. I guess if one has to have a step-mother, I am lucky to have her as mine. She has developed lymphoma, and now the possibility of losing her has brought back a lot of old feelings. I pulled my father to the side, and very plainly looked him in the face, and stated, "There will not be a repeat of past behaviors". He looked at me perplexed and I said, "You are going to be there for her. You are going to take her to chemotherapy, and you are going to stay by her side the entire time. You will not treat her, as you did my mother". I got a very surprising answer from my father; he looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said, "Yes Mme". It was a very surreal moment, but he has been involved during her entire treatment. I guess that I earned his respect because he treats me as an equal these days. With that said we can move onto things from before in my childhood.
Things from my childhood were a lot happier times than the previous events discussed. I grew up living on a cattle farm. I was somewhat of a tomboy. I loved working with the cows. Going to the sale barn each Saturday with my father and purchasing stock or selling the calves that had been born during the year. Working on a farm seems a hundred years ago, but they were happy times. There were always chores to be done on the farm, but I loved it. When the work was done I would climb up in a nearby tree with a book and read. I loved the smells of the farm and it was peaceful being in nature. Watching the yearly births of the babies and watching as they got on their feet for the first time. I still smile when thinking about it. This was not a typical role for a southern upper class girl to do, but my father allowed it because I loved it so much.
We were financially secure; my father owned his own business and a cattle ranch. That could sometimes be a double edged sword. Being in an upper class family meant you were expected to behave in a certain way. So I had to do some things I found as unpleasant, such as going to tea parties and the like. Behaving like a fine upstanding little lady, when all I wanted was to get back into jeans and be with the cattle. Ride my horse and be part of the rodeo club. Then those upper class expectations would come flooding back in and I had to choose a civic duty.
I chose to perform volunteer duties at the local hospital as a Candy Striper. I enjoyed it; I was exposed, to various different aspects of the hospital. I worked in the admitting office for a while, then moved to the radiology department developing x-rays, then moved onto the pharmacy where I delivered, drugs to the floors, that the pharmacists had filled. On occasion I would work the juice and snack cart, or the library cart delivering books to the patients. Due to the liability the hospital would have if a volunteer were exposed to something contagious; those types of volunteering jobs have gone by the wayside. With the onset of the HIPPA regulations you cannot work in admitting, and placing the transport of drugs into the hands of a minor is no longer permitted. It is a shame, because I got an education doing those jobs and being exposed to just how a hospital worked. I moved on, as the jobs they allowed volunteers to be involved in started to diminish.
Each summer, I went to Camp Fire camp. I loved and looked forward to it each year. It was another chance to get back to nature. Riding horses, crafts and nature walks. Swimming in the lake and cooking over a campfire. Lying outside at night, and looking up at the stars. Pondering my life to come, what was life really all about? I found those answers best in nature. Raising the flag each morning and, lowering it, and folding it each evening. We respected our country back then. Crawling into my bunk at the end of the day and hearing taps played just before bed each night. Lazy by gone days just like big family functions.
Every Thanksgiving and Christmas we would go to my grandmother's house for dinner. All the cousins would get together and play on the farm. Sit around a campfire at night just talking. Mostly about how strict our parents were, and how our grandmother was obsessed with making sure, we were not playing with matches in the barn. When my grandmother died, like some kind of rite of passage, all the cousins got together. Each of us armed with a box of matches, we went out and up into the barn loft. We all took a match out at the same time and lit it and said, "Big Mama, we are playing with matches in the barn". Then we blew them out and started laughing, we had all come of age.
I have had a myriad of jobs in my life. My first job was working at a dog boarding kennel. I love animals and I enjoyed my job there. I got to play with all sorts of dogs. Feeding them, cleaning cages and walking the dogs. It seems like a lazy day now and it was, ages ago. I was only 14 years old when I had that job. It was a, much simpler time in my life, but I was with animals, my favorite thing. Then I grew up a bit and got what was considered a real job.
I got a job as a server, at the local International House of Pancakes. It was ok, it got me out of the house, which I am sure is every teenagers' desire. To be out from under the thumb of their parents, even if it was just for a few hours every day, they were my hours and not my parents. I learned a lot about people working there. The Saturday night crowds were totally different from, the Sunday after Church crowd. I got educated in just how different people can be. I got to see a cross section of the people that lived in my town. I still preferred the company of animals, especially after seeing how some people behave.
When I got divorced and had to find a job to support my five year old daughter. I went to work at one of our local Whataburger's' as an Assistant Manager. It allowed me to have a flexible schedule, so that I could get my child from school and today care. I kept that job, until I remarried. My new husband said, "quit your job and take care of your mother". I was happy to do just that. He gave me a wonderful gift, the time to be with my mother until her death. I will always be grateful for the time I to spend with her. He is a wonderful man, who understands me like no other.
We then discussed my getting some form of education if something was to happen to him. So I went to Cosmetology School and became a hair dresser. I worked for a short period of time and then, we went back to me being a stay at home mom. I still keep my license up-to-date if such an occasion should arise. I do my continuing education, every year. I enjoyed working as a hair dresser, and meeting all sorts of people. It allowed me to express the creative side of my personality. However, I longed to be back at home with the kids as a stay at home mom. After the kids were all grown up and moved away, I went to work for my doctor as a medical billing clerk. He had been through many clerks and his records were a mess. I was in for a routine checkup and we are friends, as well as doctor/patient. We were talking about the state of his records and he said, "I need to hire a Bull Dog that is capable of getting this stuff collected and straightened out". I laughed; he looked at me and said, "Would you consider taking the job"? I laughingly said, "You see me as a Bull Dog"? He said, "no but you can be forceful, when need be and that is what I need". After I quit laughing, I agreed to take the job. I guess that I was a Bull Dog, because in three months I had straightened up years of bad debt. I left the job when I had a heart attack. I longed for a more peaceful job that involved my religion.
For 40 years I have been Wiccan. (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia 2006) I am now an Ordained Minister and High Priestess of my own Coven. I have been the High Priestess of my own Coven since 2003. I was Ordained in 1995, before that I worked mostly as a solitary. I did have periods of time, when I chose to be part of a Coven. Being a Minister/High Priestess takes a lot of time and dedication. Your phone may ring any hour of the day or night. People always have problems, and I am there for them. I find calm in nature worship, which goes back to a happier time in my life, when I was a child on the farm.
Having a family of my own has been an experience that I was not prepared for. I graduated High School and got married the following weekend. Boy, was that an eye opener. My parents never fought nor had a cross word once, of which I was aware. Living with my parents was like; Leave it to Beaver (Encyclopedia of Television 1997). The first time, I got into an argument with my first husband, I was shocked. It was by belief that, married couples do not fight, or so I believed. Boy was I wrong, for eight years we were together. In those eight years, we fought regularly and he was physically abusive. I had never known that there was such a thing as domestic violence. Especially from someone who did not drink.
I gave birth to a daughter just over a year after I was married. I worked really hard to keep the peace at home, because I did not want my daughter exposed to that kind of violence. Children see much more than we give them credit for. I covered up the bruises with makeup and tried to play happy family. However, I became pregnant two other times during my first marriage. He did not want any more children, so he beat them out of me. I was desperate to find a way out, and my daughter provided the opportunity for us to get out alive. At five years old, she stepped between her father and me during an argument, and stated to her father, "Daddy you are not going to hit my mommy anymore". I knew it was, time to leave.
So we packed up and left my little daughter and me. We moved in with some friends who were willing to help us. I got a job, got a lawyer, and started divorce proceedings. He worked for my father, and my father was going to fire him. I said, "No do not do that, while he works for you I know I will get child support". That was before wage garnishments. I wanted a guarantee, working for my father was a pretty good one. He knew if he missed a payment, I would go to my father. It worked usually, but from time to time he would write me a hot check. I would go to my father and he would tell Michael, you got 24 hours to get her the money or you do not have a job. That seemed to fix most of the problems. Once that was straightened out, I decided to start dating again.
When I started dating again, it felt weird at first. I would always introduce my dates to my daughter. You can tell a lot about a person by the way the react to children. Children are very perceptive too; they can tell if someone doesn't like them. When I would come home from my dates, I would talk to my daughter about the gentleman. I would ask her what she thought of him. Sometimes she was ok with them, but other times she would say, "I do not like him mommy do not see him anymore". When she first met my current husband, she immediately developed affection for him. I think that she knew before I did, that I was going to marry him. She would say things like, "I like him, and you need to marry him". I would tell her, "he has not asked me to marry him". She would say, "So you ask him mommy". He loved her too. I knew it was the right choice and when I married Jeff, I gained a son. Becky finally had a big brother. They got along very well. I guess I chose correctly we have been married 25 years.
Over the years we have watched our children grow into adults. Becky got married and made me a grandmother before I turned 40. The most precious, red-haired little girl, named Madelynn. Madelynn is now 12 and will be 13 years old in just a few months. She is taller than I, and wears a shoe three sizes larger than I do. I can imagine her being six feet tall, by the time she is 18. Now, if my son would just get married and make me a grandmother again, I would be a happy woman. We need another grandchild running around.
My husband and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. We chose to renew our vows in accordance with our religion. When we first got married, we had a civil service. It was a big deal planning a Wiccan Hand fasting and inviting non Wiccans to the ceremony. We invited about 35 of our friends. I was impressed, even my father and step mother came. We went the entire gambit, including, jumping the broom and sword. We had a reception that followed and it was also my father's birthday. So everyone sang Happy Birthday to my father at my reception. A good time was had by all.
I have had many accomplishments in my life, but none as pleasing as raising my two wonderful children. My husband and I chose, for me to be a stay at home mom. We are very proud of the adults our children have become. They are respectful, self-responsible young adults. My daughter is teaching her daughter a good set of morals. She came to me and said, "thank you mom, for teaching me how to be a good person". I told her, "I was very proud of the woman she had become". I see her raising her child with a sense of morals, and responsible behaviors, and I beam with pride.
When my husband and I decided that I needed to have a backup if something happened to him. I chose to go to Cosmetology School. It was challenging, trying to be wife, mother, and student all at the same time. It took me a while to get through the entire program. I did graduate, and go to work for a while, as a hair dresser. I was proud that I now had a skill. That way I could provide for the children, if something happened to their father. It was an important safety net for us to have. Then I made, time to search more introspectively, for what I really wanted to do.
Working toward becoming an Ordained Wiccan Minister, was an important item on my list of things, I expected doing with my life. It has given me a great sense of accomplishment obtaining my Ordination. I carry a certain quantity of pride where that is concerned. I have performed many weddings and funerals, during my being a Minister, not all which were easy for me. However, becoming ordained opened the door for me to begin thinking about having my own Coven. So I began to contemplate about if I was willing to devote that much of my time to run a full Coven.
Forming my own Coven was a great accomplishment. It was my dream come to fruition. When we get together for the eight Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year, (World Book 2010) it is a wondrous thing. Teaching young people, who are seeking the path of the God and Goddess, has also been fulfilling to me. It is my chance to mold and shape them, in preparation of their souls being made, ready for reincarnation. To help them with their daily life struggles, to teach them that they are responsible for their own actions. They are adults, and if they are honest with themselves, then they know exactly why they did something. I teach them, to own what it is that they do. Having my husband as my High Priest is also a benefit.
I see being married to my soul mate for 25 years, and loving him as my greatest accomplishment. In a world so rifled with hatred, selfishness, and no morals, finding Mr. Right was a wonderful accomplishment. If we are lucky enough to find love in this life, then we need to take it. No matter what form it presents itself to us. Whether it is heterosexual or homosexual, is of no importance. The only thing important is sharing love, with someone you feel passionate about. Having my husband, as my working magickal partner is a bonus. He has been supportive of anything; I have chosen to take on in the last 25 years.
Choosing to return to college after 50, was something that surprised many people that know me. I realize that I will be close to 55 when I graduate. The choice to return to college, after age 50 came about after a falling out with a couple of my students. It became apparent, that I needed some additional tools, to be able to counsel more effectively. So I decided to return to college and get those tools. I give of myself to my students to the best of my ability. I see them as family. My goal is to be able to help them, with as many situations as I possibly can. Going back to college will help me to do this more effectively.
Gaining the tools I need to help my students, is a high priority in my future, I want to be a good Minister and High Priestess to them. The ways people think and the way the human brain functions are a mystery. However, psychology helps to unlock some of this information. It helps me to better understand, how to help them work on their personal issues. To help them better themselves. To learn to listen to themselves and to be comfortable in their own skin is the goal. For if they cannot be comfortable with themselves; then they will never fully be comfortable with a life partner.
I also expect to choose my electives all in criminology. I have to think rationally about being able to get a job after college, to pay back my student loans. The best chance, I have to accomplish that is to minor in criminology. Not far from where we live are, a state mental institution, and the state jail for the criminally insane. I have always had a fascination with what makes people choose to be criminals. I want to be able to understand the thinking of the criminal mind. I believe a minor in criminology, will be my best bet to work on this part of my interest, and get a job that pays well enough to pay back my student loans. Besides, I find the field fascinating.
Lastly, I want to be able to be the first member of my family, to achieve a college degree. I see it as further proof that having been born female does not make me inferior. I am an intelligent woman, who can accomplish whatever I set my mind to. I have the tenacity to make it work, and the driving force to set a goal, and achieve it. Furthermore, it will give me the opportunity to give back more to my community, as well. To try to help others learn to be responsible, and maybe even find the key, to why people choose criminal activities, as opposed to choose to do what is lawful instead.
In summary, most of my past has been spent fighting the stereotypical view of having been born female in the South. The road was long and hard, but I think that I have won the battle. My family now sees me as an intelligent woman, worthy of their respect. I can finally call myself an equal, in a family with strong patriarchal views. I have, emerged from this fight, with a tenacity that, in my view can be equal, to that of any man. Having lived this experience, I believe is serving me well in the present, as I work on my college education. Furthermore, it will prove to be my best quality for success in the future.