After connecting with Alice and Toni, my circle of women mentors grew. They loved to socialize and I was invited to numerous pot-lucks and charity fundraisers. This is how I met my next Fairy Godmother, Alma. She is a little ball of fire and people love to be around her. She could easily rival Lucy Ricardo for the situations she finds herself in. I’ve been known to cry my eye make-up off, with tears of laughter, when she talks about her adventures. Is there anything more magnetic?
One of my early memories of her was at a party. We were chatting and when I went to hug her goodbye I commented that she smelled wonderful. She digs through her purse and hands me a spray bottle of Lutece cologne. “Here” she said, “keep it”. That is Alma in a nutshell. She is the most generous person I know.
It surprises me even now, because she battled to raise four kids on her own. Her first husband abandoned her with three young children and one on the way. No job, no money, and a baby to birth. But still…you don’t dare tell her you like anything of her’s, because it will end up in your purse or car.
She raised her kids with tenacity, love and laughter. It’s hard to be around Alma and not smile. I know her second husband Mike, would agree with me. He had four kids of his own when they married, so their house was packed to the rafters. It was one of those houses that all the kids in the neighborhood wanted to be at. In fact one young man came to visit and stayed. Mike and Alma welcomed everyone with open arms. Bedlam never had it so lucky.
Alma was petite, curvy, and a woman that usually get’s second looks. She is pretty but she packs a punch. You had a tiger by the tail if you messed with anyone she loved. A case in point was my wedding dress.
I hired a seamstress to make my dress three months before the wedding date. I had numerous fittings, but the dress was never put together, so I never saw it finished. I was getting nervous but the seamstress assured me it would be ready on time. Our ceremony was the day after a major holiday, and when I got the call that my dress was ready, it was the eve of this holiday. Everything closed early and would be closed the next day as well. I picked up the dress, in a box, took it to my friend Toni’s house, and tried it on. I was horrified to find that it was nothing like I had ordered! Too short, not finished, chalk markings on the seams. Just a few of the things that were wrong with this dress. I cried when I saw myself in the mirror. Toni began to see if she could somehow fix it, when Alma showed up.
They tried a couple things but efforts were fruitless. There was no saving this train wreck of a dress. She sat me down, looked me in the eye and said “the dress has to go back”! “You make them return your money,they ripped you off” she said! I couldn’t believe this was happening! How was I going to find another dress in time?! By now I was almost catatonic.
She volunteered to return the dress for me, that night, and I numbly agreed. The seamstress refused to take it back, so Alma had a “chat” with her about honor. I would have given anything to hear that conversation! When she returned with the dress, I realized I would have to go to small claims court to get my money back. It was a horrible night and I couldn’t have gotten through it without these two kind, amazing women.
Alma was now, forever cemented in my heart as an icon; along with her partner in crime, Toni. We still laugh about this story today, and it’s still making the rounds at parties.
I’ve seen Alma stand-down men three times her size and win. She lost a son tragically early, he was one of the lights of her life; and her beloved Mike is valiantly fighting Parkinson’s. She has worn down a bit.
She is adored by her grandkids and all those who have known her kindness. I adore her bawdy sense of humor. She is the woman I would want to be stranded on a desert island with…because NOBODY is going to keep her from life or loved ones!
Everyone has their sorrows. Crap happens. But it is the laughter, love and faith that I have seen these women embrace that sets them apart.They are all fearless, Amazon women. They rise above challenges. They are powerful and mesmerizing. Picture Cleopatra sailing down the Nile. Man… they are something to see!
Find out about the wedding dress that wasn’t. Follow the next Fairy Godmother blog.