Vickie - Calhoun, Georgia
Entered on June 22, 2007

I believe independence is the key to a full and rewarding life. My mother left this life without ever learning to drive. The daughter of a sharecropper, she quit school in the fifth grade to help her family pick cotton. Years later she married my father. Together they raised six children on one income. Throughout her life, my mother was a very dependent woman. She was a good woman, but I am not my mother. I am my mother’s oldest daughter.

I believe independence can be achieved at physical, mental and spiritual levels. By laying a firm foundation with an education, a driver’s license and a job, the steps to mental independence usually come easier. A person becomes mentally independent when they no longer need a parent or teacher to tell them how or what to think, but can make confident decisions on their own. The final step of independence allows an individual to develop their spiritual self and their creative abilities.

Everyone has infinite choices available, but only an independent person has the freedom or courage to choose. Choices range from how you like your eggs cooked to what kind of books you like to read to what to do with your life. People who are dependent on others have little freedom in what they choose. Their days can hinge on the mood or whim of the person they are depending on. Caught in dependent cycles, they are destined to live the life someone else has chosen for them. The final level of independence can be hard to achieve without physical and mental independence in place. An independent spirit is free to explore and learn and achieve without physical or mental barriers.

Before my mother died, she said she admired me. That is a gift I hold dear in my heart. She may not have lived an independent life, but she did inspire me to reach for more in mine. She instilled a love of learning in me at a very early age. She read to me constantly and made sure I took my schooling seriously. She accepted me for who I was and encouraged me to dream big. I believe something inside her understood the power of independence by watching me grow into something she knew she would never be. I still have a lot more to accomplish. My literature teacher, Dr. Leslie Harrelson, said, “Educate people’s mothers and you educate that family.” No truer words were spoken. I am 42 and will complete my education no matter how long it takes. I know my persistence in this goal will encourage my daughter as she plans to get an education and become a member of the medical community. I am an independent thinker and can see that kind of thinking in all three of my children. I look forward to watching them grow into physically, mentally and spiritually independent people who will change the world. Here’s to independence and to those who have encouraged us to achieve it!