When I was creating my initial list of women whom I wanted to feature on my Women of Empowerment page, Terry immediately came to mind. To introduce her, I will provide a bit of background information regarding how I am so fortunate to know this intelligent, kind, compassionate, and genuine woman.
When I started grade 7, I was so nervous. I wasn't a super outgoing kid and so heading into a new school where there would be a whole bunch of new kids made me extremely nervous, to say the least. I remember walking into my homeroom class and awkwardly looking around to see if I recognized anyone from my elementary. It was kind of hard to do seeing as I didn't dare make eye contact with anyone. I ended up choosing a desk near the far side of the classroom. Then, a boy sat down in front of me and I remember thinking "great. This guy is tall and now I can't even see the whiteboard". His name was Jeremy and he quickly became one of my best friends.
It turned out that we lived not too far from each other. In fact, we caught the same bus to get home. One day at school he asked me if I wanted to come to his house for dinner. My mom said it was fine, so I accepted the offer. This is where I had the pleasure of meeting his parents and his brother. His dad Norm was the best, so funny, and welcoming. I loved him immediately. We understood each other's humor and I didn't feel one bit nervous. Then, I got to meet his mom, Terry. She cooked such a delicious meal, although I can't remember what it was. What I do remember is that there was homemade sliced bread to accompany the meal. My mom had never made homemade bread, so it was such a treat. Terry and I got along great. She was so easy to talk to, and truly cared about how I was doing in school and about my family. Most of all, I knew how much she cared about me in general. I spent lots of time at their house after school. I already had a mom, an aunt, and a nana, but with Terry, I had gained a second mom.
The summer in between grades 8 and 9, I lost my mom unexpectedly. When it happened, Terry was the third person I called, only after the ambulance and my aunt. She and Jeremy arrived at the house within half an hour of my call to offer love and support; they didn't even hesitate. They then took me to Klondike Days to try to find my brother so that I could tell him what happened. The years that followed were extremely difficult for me even though I handled it well. I owe much of this to Terry.
She has always been someone whom I can talk to and we have never lost touch. In fact, we have made a point to see each other several times throughout the year, and always around Christmas time. For our grade 9 farewell, Terry made me a homemade shawl to match my dress. She bravely lets me use her sewing machine as needed. When Jeremy married his beautiful wife Amanda, my husband and I attended their wedding in Las Vegas, 4 months pregnant to boot. Their family is my family, and Terry introduces me as her adopted daughter. She treats my kids like they are her grandbabies, making them homemade crib sheets and burp cloths, and spoiling them with cuddles and treats. Without a doubt, she has been placed in my life to be my guardian angel. I lost my mom, but she made sure that I was left surrounded by some amazing people.
Although Terry metaphorically adopted me when I was a teen, she actually has two sons, Nicolas and Jeremy. As mentioned, Jeremy's wife is Amanda, and Nicolas's partner is Lisa. Terry is a shining example of a natural mother. She is so nurturing and loves her family more than anything in the world. Despite always having a fulfilling career, her children have always been her priority and she has been able to find balance. As a mother of two who aspires to have a fulfilling career as well, she is a significant motivation for me.
When I asked Terry if she would allow me to write an article about her, she was honored. She was also pleasantly taken aback, which doesn't surprise me. The greatest women often do not realize how great they actually are. In any case, I learned a little bit more about her through a mini "interview", which I have included below.
Britnee: Where and when were you born? Where were you raised?
Terry: I was born in Chatham ON in 1957. I was raised in Blenheim ON, a small town in Southwest Ontario
Britnee: What are some of your favourite childhood memories?
Terry: Playing outside all day long during the summer. Going to the beach - It was only about a 15-minute drive to Lake Erie. Having my cousin stay with me during the summer -We used to write letters back and forth for the rest of the year. Going to my grandparent's house most Sundays after church and having Grandma's butter tarts. Baking brownies. The page in the cookbook I used was brown from having ingredients spilled on it so often.
Britnee: What is your educational background?
Terry: Grade 12 and the RNA program - Registered Nursing Assistant - They are now LPNs.
Britnee: What is your current career, and how did you get here?
Terry: I am a coordinator with the Alberta Medical Association. When I moved to Calgary Alberta in 1981, after doing five years of shift work, I wanted to get a job with "normal people's hours". I worked as a receptionist in an x-ray clinic. When I moved to Edmonton in 1985, I worked in a couple of family medicine offices, then at a podiatry office for 15 years. I loved the podiatry office but felt I needed to do something new, so I moved on to positions that were more of an administrative assistant role, rather than a medical office assistant role. Ten years ago I started working at the AMA as an admin assistant and then moved up to a coordinator role about three years ago. I am retiring at the end of September.
Britnee: How do you feel about retiring?
Terry: I'm going to miss my coworkers because I work with a great bunch. But I'm looking forward to not having to get up at 5:00 am! I also have some projects at home I want to do and they will be much easier to do when I don't have to schedule work in with it.
Britnee: If you had to pick one event (good or bad) that has shaped you the most, what would it be?
Terry: Maybe my parents' divorce. It was difficult for us six kids so when I made a commitment to be married, I vowed I would not break it.
Britnee: What are three things that you love about yourself?
Terry: I think I'm a good mom. I am a caring person with a good ethic. I am creative.
Britnee: What is one thing that you would like to work on?
Terry: My golf game.
Britnee: What is your number one bucket list item?
Terry: To be a grandma but I realize I can't control that.
Britnee: What do you do for self-care?
Terry: Regular facials and massages. I also make sure I get enough sleep every night.
Britnee: What message would you like to provide to women everywhere?
Terry: Be yourself. Don't feel like you have to be something you are not just because someone thinks you should be. Also, things happen for a reason, and never feel guilty about things you've done in your past. You can't change it and everything you've done made you who you are today.
It was fun to read Terry's responses and it reminded me that there is so much more to say about her. I'll have you know that she can bake an amazing loaf of sourdough bread, and then head to her garage to build a table. She can sew pretty much anything and she is willing to teach herself how to complete any project that interests her. She is one of the most resourceful, independent people I know.
If you know Terry, then you also know that her greatest strength is perhaps her compassion for others. She would help anyone without expecting anything in return, even a young girl from her son's school. We need more women like this in the world, ones who help build each other up and offer support to those in need.
For these reasons and many, many more, Terry is this week's Woman of Empowerment. Thank you for letting me share your story!
Terry (2nd from the right), her five siblings, father, and stepmother
Terry and Norm on their 33rd wedding anniversary
From left to right: Jeremy, Amanda, Norm, Terry, Lisa, and Nicolas