Thirty-one years ago today, I gave birth to my beloved second child, Elizabeth, in the master bedroom of our home in Denison, Texas. I had the help of two midwives; Ray; my best friend, Patricia Butler; and my 3 1/2 year-old daughter, Sarah, over that long night. Sarah had the calmest demeanor in the room as she sat perched next to me on the side of the bed, looking deep into my eyes as I did my breathing through each contraction. “You’re doing a good job, Mommy,” she’d say after I did my cleansing breath. (I suspect this was the birth of her future career as a physician, who now helps many women during childbirth.)
Little Elizabeth arrived in the early morning hours with a shock of dark brown hair and a pretty pink body, weighing in at 6 lbs. 12 oz. and measuring 19 inches long. She and Sarah curled up next to each other almost immediately and fell fast asleep since both were tired after all that labor. They have been deeply bonded ever since.
The minute Liz learned to talk, she asked one question after another about life and people and how things worked and just everything in general. We soon saw that she possessed one of those quick, analytical minds that could organize and sort information in a flash and come up with ideas and solutions. She started Montessori at age three because she wanted to be with her big sister and though her teacher had to explain that she couldn’t have a snack just when she wanted it but rather at “snack-time,” she soon was zipping along, learning everything in sight. When she was in second grade, we homeschooled her for one year and I was struck with her little sponge of a mind that could absorb information with a level of ease that was noteworthy. She literally covered two grades in one year and when we put her back in public school, I lobbied hard for her to skip a grade. I found a willing principal, and Liz has never looked back. She finished her Bachelor’s at USC in three years, a Master’s degree in Anthropology in two, a law degree in two, and then passed the California Bar on her first try. Yes, a ready and absorbent mind at work!
But even though Liz’s thinking ability is impressive, it’s really her personality that makes her the stand-out person that she is. She loves to laugh, has a bawdy sense of humor (Thanks, Ray) and possesses an enthusiasm for life that makes her open to trying all sorts of new adventures. From archeological digs in Ecuador and Belize to hiking a trail along the Pacific Coast to taking a two month driving trip with boyfriend Ron all across the country to spending ten days in Alaska working with Habitat for Humanity, Liz likes to experience what life has to offer. Her organizational skills extend to trip-planning and she figures out how to make the most of her free time. She has been to Peru, Thailand and Europe and right this minute is returning from a ski trip in Utah. Yes, she’s a young woman on the move. Not to mention that she is kind and absolutely to be counted on as both a daughter, sister, friend or worker. Plus, she has an interesting artistic bent and has taken lots of ceramics and other classes at the Barnsdall Art Center.
I know this sounds like any proud mother crowing about her sweet daughter (and it is), but there’s a bit more here, at least from my point-of-view. I have watched as Liz has tackled life from day one and how she has navigated through the obstacles she has faced. She is a friend through thick and thin, is loyal almost to a fault, and is one of the people who I’d trust to fight just about any cause worth fighting for. She has a keen sense of social justice and Katie-bar-the-door if you get between someone and their civil rights. She has a voice and she knows how to use it.
I suppose I’m saying that Liz gives me hope for this world. She, along with her big sister, Sarah, and little sister, Rachael, join a whole group of smart, able young people who believe in the importance of equality, fairness and justice. They will stand strong and tough and use their voices as they move forward for all the principles upon which our country is based. I feel heartened by them and the people with whom they share their lives.
I love you, sweet Elizabeth. You are colorful, full of life and have one of the most infectious laughs on the planet. Thanks for joining me in this life. You have a real knack for making every day a lot more interesting.