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Throwback Thursday #25 – Mentors and Role Models

Welcome back to Throwback Thursday. I am looking into a more serious subject this time. Lauren will be back to host again next week. If you want to join in, it’s easy:

  • Write your own post sharing your memories and leave a pingback to this post in the comments.
  • You can use the photo above in your post to make it easier to find.
  • Tag it with #TBTMemory or #IRememberWhen.
  • If you do not wish to write your own post, feel free to tell your story in the comments below.

This week’s prompt is: Mentors and Role Models

Last week my daughter lost her mentor from her college days. It was someone she knew and looked up to for 25 years. Someone she met as an 18 year-old woman fresh out of high school. She was someone who influenced her and help mold her into the person she is today. 

This made me wonder about what mentors or role models, if any, I had. Who were the people who helped shape me?

For those who wish to answer questions, they will follow. For those who prefer to free write, use the questions to help pull your thoughts together. 

  1. Who were the people you looked up to as a child? Were they family or someone outside your family?
  2. At what age did you feel aspirations for your life? Who inspired you?
  3. Did you have a role model who was in the public eye, such as an actor or a politician?
  4. What draws you to people that inspire you?
  5. Have you lost someone you considered a mentor? How did that loss affect you?
  6. Has a role model ever disappointed you or let you down?
  7. Have you ever found yourself in the role of a mentor for someone else?
  8. At this stage of your life, what caliber of people inspire you to greatness?

My post follows:


If I am being honest, as a young child I never thought about aspirations for my life. I don’t think I had one thought about what I hoped to achieve until I reached high school. 

My paternal grandfather was my best friend and I admired him. I trusted him with my life. He was kind to everyone and had a gentle spirit. When I write about him now I refer to him as my gentle giant. 

He shared stories from his time working on the railways. He told me of a man killed in a crane accident for which he blamed himself. He told me about his sister who got sick from standing barefoot on a concrete floor for hours. I felt important when he trusted me with these stories. He taught me about plants and took me on walks as he gathered ginseng and May Apples. I learned to watch for snakes and avoid the stinging nettle that lined the forest floor.

When I was 10 years old, my brother and I found my grandfather deceased. It was the greatest loss I had ever experienced and so hard to understand at such a tender age. But in those 10 short years, I forged a relationship with a man who has remained ever present in my heart and mind for the 50+ years that followed. He has always been the example by which I measured men.

My mother was the first example I had of a strong independent woman. She knew how to stand her ground. She had a way of finding the humor in every situation. She had a fierce love of animals and detested anyone who would hurt a vulnerable creature. I am sure I developed my love of animals from her. To her, all animals, mutts or pedigrees, deserved to be loved, respected and taken care of. Unfortunately, I lost her when I was 19. I was fresh out of high school and in the military. It was a loss that would leave me feeling like I was in a free fall for years to follow.

Years later when I stepped into the IT world, my first boss was a strong independent and self reliant woman. I watched her wrangle a team made up of an unlikely crew. I was the only woman in the department for a while and her ease of working with and managing a diverse team served as my guidebook for relationships in the workplace.

I was fortunate to report to two men at the start of this career. Both were encouraging, funny, and extremely intelligent. They gave me wings to fly. These relationships taught me how important it was to allow people to learn and stand on their own. I would model myself against the standards and expectations of excellence they had of me.

Later in my career I would again have another woman for a manager. She was such a wonderful role model. She had worked her way through corporate America resulting in an extremely impressive resume. She was a shining example of professionalism and fair play. She would be the standard by which I would measure all future supervisors.

The time following my mother’s death was chaotic in many ways. Through the years, I would develop an extremely close relationship with my father. He was far from perfect and he would be the first to admit it. I could tell him anything. He taught me about the balance of love and respect, and of honesty. I knew what it felt like to be loved and although I was sometimes slow on the uptake, I learned to recognize when I deserved better.

I lost him when I was 38. It was a loss that still shakes me. As with my grandfather, I have carried him with me in the 30 years since his passing. I looked up to him and he was my kindred spirit. He was my confidant and my best friend. I think of him often as I remind myself it is absolutely okay to be human and to experience the vast array of experiences that life offers and all the emotions that go hand-in-hand with them.

I think I have been very fortunate to have had such influences in my life.