‘Flo’ provided loving, helping hand

As I reflect, I can remember the women in my life who influenced me. I began my life with devastation and disaster. At the age of two, I lost my mom to an automobile accident. Though life was hard, I always had an angel in my corner. She influenced my life through her death and taught me to appreciate those I did have. Speaking of those I had, I must give flowers to the one woman who God ordained to substitute for my loss. That person is my grandmother, Florida “Flo” Jean Bradford. A 5-foot-5, sassy-talking, Southern belle from Claredon, Ark. My grandmother was truly the apple of my eye.

Every morning in the Bradford household was routine. Grandma would fuss at everyone in the house and send us on our way. I can still hear my grandmother’s voice yelling “Ash, get up, it’s time to go to school. Wake up, and don’t think about falling to sleep in that tub.”

“And Robert,” as she would call my grandfather, ” hurry up and get out of that bathroom.”
Ah, music to my ears. My grandmother was a strong and independent woman who enjoyed agreeing to disagree with those she loved.

We constantly argued about things that didn’t matter because she always knew exactly what to say to provoke an argument. Although she was tough, I miss our debates.
From teaching me how to tie my shoe, to taking care of myself, the lessons she taught could never be bought.
She made it her job to instill morals and values that I carry with me daily.

“Ash, you better get that lesson,” she would say.
Education was a must in our household. She made sure I made it my top priority.

I often smile when reminiscing on the jokes she told and the hearts she filled.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost three years since she and my grandfather passed. They were my parents and they are all I have ever known.

My journey through life has been filled with many ups and downs. But contrary to the negative, many positive things have happened and are responsible for my very being.
For that reason, I thank God. I have had the opportunity to be blessed with family who loves and supports my every move. Most of all, I was fortunate to have had grandparents like mine.
Some situations may seem unfair and we often question why? For those answers, it is always important to remember that there is indeed a reason for your experience. These experiences I’ve faced have not only made me stronger, but have evolved me into true womanhood.

They will live on in mind and spirit and I will forever be grateful for my grandmother. I love you, Jean!

Ashley Leichmon is a senior mass communications major from Crossett, Ark.