Who have you forgotten about until right now? Think hard and list five people from your past that you really should have written something about by now but haven’t. Circle the name of the person who stands out the strongest. Write a description or brief memoir of that person.
As I've posted several times, I had a rather difficult childhood. Had my mother not taken the same parenting classes as Joan Crawford, things may have been different for me. But you get the parents you get, and that's that (unless Child Protective Services has something to say about it).
Anyway, even as a little girl, I always wanted to be a mommy. I knew that I needed to find other positive parental influences to help shape my future mommy skills.
That's where Mrs. Hayden comes in. Ahhh, Mrs. Hayden. Ann, if you were on a first name basis with her (and I was not). This was in the day when you didn't refer to adults by their first name.
I was lucky enough to be in a class with Debbie Hayden, and to have Mrs. Hayden as our homeroom mother for most of my elementary school years. Debbie and I became friends, and I was ushered into the inner sanctum of the Hayden household...and I fell in love. I had my first mommy crush...on Mrs. Hayden.
Mrs. Hayden was practically perfect, in every way (forget that Mary Poppins gal). She was everything MY mom was not - she stayed at home, she was kind, she baked and cooked and cleaned and genuinely had affection for Debbie and her little brother, Johnny. Mrs. Hayden had a wonderful laugh (of course, I knew she was laughing WITH me and not AT me...she'd never be mean like that).
I loved going to Debbie's house, and not just for a glimpse at Mrs. Hayden. Debbie was a great friend. We played well together, we didn't argue. I would NEVER argue at the Hayden house - that just wouldn't be right. I'd have felt like I was cursing in a church or something.
I was an angel at Debbie's house, lest I not be asked back. I VOLUNTARILY made the bunk bed I slept in. I put my toys away. I was polite. And I watched how Mrs. Hayden interacted with her children, filing away little kindnesses that I would one day bestow upon my own children.
I even allowed Mrs. Hayden to call me by a nickname that I would raise a fuss about if anyone else called me by that name. It was the least I could do...and you know, it didn't sound half bad when she said it. She taught me about the importance of listening, of consistency, of being there for your children. I learned all those lessons in West Point, our subdivision (not the US military academy in NY).
I had my first daughter when I was 19, and I had to show her off to Mrs. Hayden. Debbie was in college, so I didn't get to see her. But I'd periodically stop by to see Mrs. Hayden. It seemed odd, with no little children in her home. Shannon and I were welcomed, just as I had been as a child. She was still very close to her children. She was the one who picked Debbie up from college for weekends home.
When my daughter Shannon was old enough to dress up in a Halloween costume (as a toddler, resplendent in her Raggedy Ann getup), we drove to the Hayden house. As always, we were welcomed warmly. Though our visit was short, as there were other houses to stop at, I promised to stop by during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, when Debbie would be home from college.
I never made that visit. A week after Halloween, on a trip back to college, Debbie and Mrs. Hayden were hit head on by a semi, killing both of them.
I went to their viewing at the funeral home. They still looked so much alike. And although they left Mr. Hayden and 13-year old Johnny behind, I think they would have wanted to go together.
It's such a shame that Debbie never married her fiance and had her own babies. She had a wonderful example to follow...and I'm sure Mrs. Hayden would have been the ideal grandmother.