*Story number 15 in a series of stories about women who influence the most as part of Women’s History Month.
EMPIRE, GEORGIA: Helen Keller once wrote, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
Donna Geraldine Madison Holland, age 84, could have been the muse behind Keller’s thinking – had she been around when Keller was.
Called Gerry by family and friends, she has been a wife for 67 years this coming August to the same man, is a mother to three by blood – the oldest turning 64 this year and the youngest is age 50, was a mother by choice to one who would have been 56 this year, and is a grandmother of five – the oldest near 40 and the youngest near 30. She also enjoyed being ‘Nana’ to her child by choice’s two children, who now have two children each of their own.
A preacher’s daughter, she has been a Christian since she was under the age of 10, and has played the piano since hitting double digits in age before she became a teenager. Her ambition in life was to be a wife and a mother.
She didn’t work outside the home until her youngest children were in middle and high school, though Gerry spent years as a volunteer in church work and in her children’s schools. As a housewife, she saw to the needs of the house and the family, making sure they were fed, dressed and clean.
In her 84 years, Gerry has seen a little bit of good, a little bit of bad and still says ‘God is good all the time.’
Her family has faced the typical, and not typical, things that families in this materialistic society endures. Through it all, Gerry has held true to her trust in God that “He provides for us. He loves us unconditionally.” She has helped many in the community. It showed her servant heart.
Twenty-one years ago, she was involved in an incident that caused her some traumatic injuries. During recovery, and since, she was and is a fighter. Most of us would have given up. When she could, Gerry got up and kept moving. It showed her as a woman full of perseverance.
The list of reasons why I chose her as a woman who left a mark in my life or who influences me daily is as long as the Mississippi River is wide. The main reason would be the obvious, she is my mom.
Two days ago, I asked her what advice she would give her youngest grandson who will be marrying soon. Gerry started in on one of her ‘sermons,’ but then she stopped. “You know, all they need to do is to keep God first, love Him and know with Him everything will be OK.”
It was and is her simple recipe to her own personal happy life as a wife, a mother and grandmother.
I love you, Momma!
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