Given that you're here, on my blog, you probably don't live under a rock and you have one or two associations with this name, like this lady here:
I am the biggest Gilmore Girls fan in the world. I mean, they talk fast, make pop culture references no one gets and drink more coffee than should be humanly possible -- Lorelai Gilmore and I are kindred spirits.
But this name has an even more special meaning to me and I want to tell you a story about the lady who inspired it, Lora Jean.
I first met Lora around the age of 4. We'd moved from Texas to Kansas, back to the area where my parents were raised. We began attending the church I'd grow up in and Lora quickly became one of my mom's closest friends. When I was very young, she and her husband owned a Putt-Putt. I remember Lora babysitting my younger brother and I and spending hours playing video games and mini golf. Basically the best babysitter ever!
After some unforeseen life circumstances, Lora began working for my dad as his office manager. She was the one who taught me to type, around the age of 8, something I'd eventually do professionally for many years. And at age 14, she hired me as her assistant for two afternoons a week, gradually increasing my hours and duties as I aged; we eventually spent every afternoon together, working side by side.
As I grew, though, so did our relationship. Lora was an active volunteer in our church's youth group and she always had her home open to us. I spent countless nights there watching movies and making pizzas (always with a Chef Boyardee crust mix). Her annual Christmas sleepovers were EPIC (details of which I couldn't possibly disclose here. What happens at Lora's stays at Lora's ;). It was always the highlight of the year for the teenage girls in the church.
She was a thoughtful, intent listener and while she was steadfast in her faith, she was never pushy. Because of that, I felt safe confiding in her and she always handled my struggles with grace. Because of this trust she built with care, she was the one who lead me to Christ at age 16.
When I was 17, Lora became very ill very suddenly. It took the doctors several months to figure out what was wrong and she died just a few short weeks after we finally learned of her diagnosis -- multiple myeloma.
It's been 15 years since she died. My heart still aches with sadness when there's something I wish she were here for, like when I got married or when I finally became a mom. As silly as it sounds, I say little prayers in hopes she may know about my boys or our baby girl on the way and I tell my boys about her, the woman who was so important to me she'd be like another grandma if she were here.
And someday, not so long from now, I'll tell my Lorelai about Lora, the wild, crazy prankster church lady in red, who molded her mama into the woman she is today.
I asked some friends who knew Lora too to share a story that is quentessentially Lora. I got so many amazing responses that I can't put all of them, but below are a few that capture the essence of the woman who shaped so much of my life!
The lady in RED! Maybe I should say the crazy lady in red.... the Christmas shopping trips to KC and her crazy games to keep us entertained on the way and the only time I ever saw her irritated was when Carol and I got lost in the mall and were a wee bit late getting back to the bus. I think she forgave us, lol. LOVED her spirit. She was SO fun!
I can't hear "Lady in Red" and not think of her because she would tell me how much she loved that song. I also can't see David Hasselhoff and not think of Lora. ha! I can still recall her distinctive laugh (when she was playing a prank on someone) and/or her high-pitched scream (when we were playing games in youth group and she was getting really excited)...she liked to win. lol
She understood teenagers better than anyone I have ever met before. She understood our flighty and ever-changing emotions, our wiggly inability to sit still for long, and our need to fully experience the world, and never batted an eyelash or took our attitudes personally. During an awkward phase of life, she made me totally comfortable in my own skin - a massive undertaking that I am still not totally sure how she accomplished.
Lora was a quintessential encourager. She helped me get over myself and learn not to take myself too seriously. As mentioned before, she had a way of making you feel like the most important person to her. She had a lot of best friends! At that time in my life I had never experienced such a friendship as hers. She loved me, and she loved my family. She enjoyed being included in our girls days out, and was always so very grateful. I never appreciated her enough. Now I am the one who is so very grateful.
This thread is amazing. No, Lora was amazing. :) A couple fun memories for your project, Kels: 1) Bra sledding - do you remember the christmas sleepover when this was a serious consideration? Still makes me giggle. 2) We went to visit Kelsey in the hospital after visiting hours one night and really felt like we were breaking in. Lora signed us in and made it into a fun adventure instead of letting us feel sad or scared about your being sick.
Lora was an amazing mentor to me. She was so kind, loving and had so much compassion for ALL. I will never forget the last time we talked. She visited me in the hospital after I had my son almost 16 years ago. She had such great advice and I will cherish her forever!!
And Lora would be laughing at the stories and at herself the loudest! One very special lady!
And my own memory:
Two buckets and a strap (those of you who get this are dying right now). ;)
We miss you so much, dear friend!