The Women In My Life

Recently, a special friend has returned to my circle of life and it started me thinking about who had the greatest influence on the direction I traveled and why I consistently chose strong women as good friends. 

I am not an aggressive person but as a man, I think I have succeeded beyond the expectations that most had for me when I left the nest.  I loved my father dearly, and respected him for what he accomplished, given his family background, and his struggles just to provide a home and family setting for the six of us – all during a time in history when even the well-to-do were leaping from the heights for reasons he would have probably thought trivial.

Having said that, I am sure that the first 10 years of their marriage and the first 10 years of my life would have been less secure had it not been for the spirit and courage of my mother. A great part of that spirit and courage came from her having to overcome a world of total silence that she was forced into at a time in her life when the world should have been a flower ready to be picked. 

I admired her because she never complained to anyone, except maybe to God, about that silence and constantly searched for ways to get friends and relatives past her deafness and not treat her as handicapped. She was forced to drop from High School after two years and was totally deaf at the time of her marriage.

There were times, as a child, I cried in frustration for my mother. She almost completed 44 years  as our anchor and we are all so much better off having had her here. She was the first strong woman I loved and the first big influence on my path.  What I am today is largely a  product of Agnes Miller Langrehr.

The next strong woman and the greatest love of my life was my wife, Joan, who had the most influence on my path during the 58 married years of my 82 years on planet Earth.  It has been said that men tend to marry their mother.  Joan was strong like my mother, Joan had the same moral character and was also soft and could be hurt like my mother.  One of the big regrets in my life is that the two of them never had the chance to meet and “gang-up” on me. 

I have hundreds of male friends who I have made over the years in fraternal organizations, the volunteer fire company, golf club and my employment for 40 years at McGraw-Hill but I made no “buddies”. Until father time intervened my 3 best friends were Joan’s sisters, Sally, Iris and Vera. Iris has left us, Vera is 86 and grounded and  Sally lives close by and we talk every day.

Be it good fortune or good luck or the good judgement of our two sons, I am blessed with two daughters-in-law who are also strong women with moral courage and conviction.  Seeming like a script for an upbeat TV sit-com, both girls are dedicated teachers and both teach special needs children.  Robin teaches in the Baltimore City School System and Jennifer teaches at the John Archer School in Harford County.

There were people in my life  from the time I was 12 who were good friends when they were guiding me and a few of them I still trade Christmas cards with but the most admirable leader I ever had was Kate, a strong, young girl. She left McGraw-Hill for greener pastures about the time I retired and we kept in touch. Time and old age pushed me in one direction  and she was busy with family, kids  and the new job.  We never did do that golf at Winters Run but thanks to the new “social networking” we are back “talking” by wire and we fulfilled that date for lunch at our new restaurant on the Rumsey Island Canal.

And again, thanks to the Internet and “social networking” and a new neighbor,  Amanda (another strong young woman), I again have a purpose.  Her sister, Jennifer, who I have the good fortune to now call friend has this magazine. She invited me to contribute my limited talents on a regular basis and this makes me feel like a fulfilled and very happy person again.

I do not know how I became the beneficiary of so much good fortune but it may still be the gentle hand of Agnes Miller Langrehr and her guiding words spoken long ago back on that 10 acres along the Gunpowder…“It can’t be just  good looks, there has to be substance”.

All of these women have the good looks and the substance.  Happy Valentines Day to all the ladies in my life…

Don Langrehr

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