Running with Fire

Some people are born with a calm, gentle spirit and a quiet demeanor. My mother, however, was not.

She’s not rude, but she’ll tell you like it is. There isn’t much sugar coating coming from those lips.

She’s not obnoxious, and she doesn’t seek to make her presence known, but she isn’t akin to sitting in the background without a voice.

She voices her opinion. She stands up for what she believes. She chases what she wants. She isn’t afraid of confrontation. And she doesn’t apologize for who she is.

She is every bit of fiery red that covers her head. And I love her for it.

As I have said, she goes after what she wants.

At 12 years old, she worked for my grandfather in his finance business. After saving money she had earned, she took it upon herself to meet with one of their customers, purchase a horse, and have it delivered to her house. Yes. A 12-year-old bought herself a horse. And more surprisingly, a grown man sold a horse to a 12-year-old.

You can imagine my grandparents surprise when a horse showed up at their house. My mother proudly proclaimed that she had bought herself a horse and that was the end of the conversation. She now owned a horse.

In the midst of wedding planning, she decided she wanted to learn how to sew. She talked to her, soon-to-be, mother-in-law and informed her that she wanted to learn to sew. Not only that, but, she wanted to sew the dress she would wear on the way to her honeymoon, only a short few weeks away. My grandmother told her that was a little ambitious of a task for the time frame given, but my mom was determined. To no one’s surprise, a few short weeks later, she left for her honeymoon in the dress she had sewn herself.

Throughout my childhood, I remember several different hobbies my mother took interest in. From sewing and smocking, to oil painting. Then on to scrapbooking and cake decorating. In my older years, it was running 5 and 10Ks, and then, learning how to shoot.

Whatever it was she wanted to do, she pursued it with diligence and commitment. She’s one who can’t sleep until her goals are met. Literally. She has been known to stay up nights on end without wavering to accomplish whatever task she has set before herself.

As I was in high school, she always joked that she was going to move into my dorm with me when I started college. She wanted to finish her degree alongside me, and, preferably, before me.

I was always pretty certain that she was kidding about moving in with me. Finishing her degree, however, was a matter I knew she was serious about it. I never doubted that she would get it done, I just wasn’t sure when or where she would do it.

With the demands of a job, and being a wife and mother, it’s nothing short of remarkable that she went back full-time to finish her degree. And finish she did.

I’m fairly certain she put more effort into one single class than I did in all 5 classes combined this semester, but I should have expected nothing less. She’s never been known to settle for “good enough.” She isn’t even one to put in “just enough” effort to get an A. If she isn’t giving 100%, she isn’t satisfied.

When she wants something, she puts her head down and doesn’t let up until it’s finished. A trait that I didn’t quite fully inherit, but I could take a few lessons from.

Her willpower really is admirable. At times, it’s frustrating. Occasionally you have to shake your head and smile- wondering what exactly she’s thinking, but being impressed by her dedication, all the more.

Sometimes, life with my mother feels a lot like following behind someone with a torch and constantly putting out the fires they set. It looks that way sometimes, too.

She’s a fiery red head who has a habit of running with fire.

She pursues her dreams with passion, dedication, and commitment, never taking “no” for an answer.

I’m thankful I have had a strong example for pursuing your dreams and never accepting defeat. My mom has been an incredible testament to what a strong-willed woman can accomplish.

She may not have a quiet, gentle spirit or a soft-spoken tongue, but I wouldn’t trade her fiery passion or unapologetic attitude for anything.

She has taught me to be strong and dedicated. To chase, relentlessly, after the things I want in life. To never except “no” as an answer when it comes to chasing my dreams. And to never listen to the naysayers or dream crushers.

We’re different, but very much the same. What I lack in boisterous opinions and blatant upfrontness, I believe I make up for in strong-willed mind and stubborn, hardheadedness.

Anytime someone points out how stubborn I am, I smile and think, “Just wait until you meet my mom!”

Not many people can say they helped fix their mom’s cap and gown on graduation day, or got to watch her walk across that stage. I’m so thankful I got to be there to celebrate all of her accomplishments and hard work.

You did it, mom! You graduated before me, just like you always hoped. I love you. I’m proud of you. And I will celebrate your accomplishments with you forever.

University of Mississippi Class of 2016





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