This Saturday I woke up like any other Saturday and started to clean. For some strange reason Wanda Sherard was on my mind. At one point when I went to put something away I even stopped and picked up a piece of jewelry she had given me when I was 18 years old. I thought briefly about all the things she had taught me and the effect she had on my life. I put the items away and continued cleaning. Little did I know that just a few hours later, memories of her would become much more precious.
It’s hard to put into words how much I loved Wanda Sherard. Most of the time when people pass away we tend to forget every fault they ever had and only remember the good things. But the different thing about Wanda is that I always thought she was perfect. Even as a child I knew she was. Wanda was one of my mother’s close friends and has been in my life since I can remember. She was always my mom’s “cool” friend. First, she was just so much fun. She had no kids but did have a niece my age. This made her seem like she was from another planet. She was a teacher with NO KIDS! Have you ever heard of such? I sure hadn’t! She seemed to understand things that your parents couldn’t! She was simply beautiful. She wore the coolest clothes. She had awesome nails and perfect hair. I remember just trying to run my hands thru my hair the same way she did. (I never got that down) She had cool things in her house that no other adult had. She had a pool table. I remember thinking my mom would never let us have a pool table. She had a giant plant that she decorated for Christmas instead of a tree. It was the coolest thing ever. To a kid these things seemed to be something you would only see in the movies or Wanda and Michael’s house! When she was with adults she would always pay attention to the kids in the room and made them feel special. You had no doubt that hanging out with Wanda would be just as fun as playing at a friend’s house and if you had a choice you would ALWAYS choose Wanda.
When I look back at all the things Wanda taught me it’s truly amazing. Many things I think about in my daily routine. I think about my own daughter and hope there is someone in her life that can make sure she knows all these life lessons if I fail to teach her. Because she is gone too soon I want to share just some of the memories and lessons that went along with them.
|Getting ready for my first pageant|
2. Always, Always, Always take care of your skin. This is something Wanda drilled into me. Even once buying me $160.00 in skin care and having to explain to Michael why I needed this at 18 years old! She always told me “pulling on my eyes while putting on eyeliner was going to cause wrinkles” I have worn anti-aging skin care since I was 21 years old and I am pretty sure this is due to Wanda Sherard and her insistence to take care of my skin. To this day I cannot go to bed with my make-up on without hearing her voice in my head telling me "sleeping in my makeup will age my skin seven years." This is probably not true but I still never sleep in my make-up and if I do, I wake up looking to see if I look seven years older than the night before.
3. Stand up straight and smile. Those of you that know me know that I am pretty reserved and not always the one to light up a room with a smile. Wanda always told me to stand up straight and smile. How true this is. A smile can get you further that you may think. When you think of Wanda will you ever think of her not smiling? She could conquer the world with her bright smile.
4. Always put the first rain of May on your head. Ok, I know this sounds so weird and I always thought it was too. When I was staying with Wanda she always made sure that we were sprinkled with the first rain of May. If the forecast was calling for rain she would put out a container to make sure she caught the rain so she could later sprinkle it on my head. She always told me it would bring me good health all year. I felt like I was getting baptized right there in her kitchen. I am pretty sure Michael went thru this ritual as well. J Not sure how true it is but you better believe I get baptized again every May when the first rain comes.
4. The Rolling Stones are a great band but best when listened to extremely loud and in a convertible. What more do I need to say about this? She was right. And to this day when “You Can’t Always Get What You Want" comes on the radio I turn it up and think of Wanda singing it to the top of her lungs driving down the road. Even today when my daughter wants something I sometimes reply singing this song. She hates it but that’s ok.
5. The Best way to keep an oven clean is not to use it. There is an incredible story that goes along with this that I had forgotten. In the last day two people reminded me of the time I was trying to cook at Wanda’s house. She had a very expensive oven that I was trying to operate. I could not get it to do anything! I told Wanda I thought it was broken and she called a repair man to come take a look. He quickly ascertained the problem. It had never been plugged in. The best part was that it was SEVEN years old. Let’s just say Wanda never had an oven that she actually used but she was known for having a very clean one.
6. Its ok to tell a stranger off as long as you do it the right way. In 1996 Wanda took me, along with her niece, on a trip to Nassau celebrate our senior year of high school. We went to a very high-end restaurant. When we arrived, what I could only assume was the owner of the establishment was a complete jerk. We were finally seated and had a great meal with excellent service. On the way out the door the same gentleman that was so rude earlier asked if we enjoyed our evening. Wanda replied “The atmosphere was great. The food was excellent. She service was perfect, but you, sir, are a complete ass” She gave him the biggest smile she could as we exited the establishment. At the time it seemed to me like the perfect line from a movie. I was amazed at her presence as she left him standing there with his mouth open. I will never forget it.
|Wanda and me cuddling.|
Wanda helped shape my life in more ways than I am able to write about and more than I ever told her. She was there to help me win the school word contest in third grade. She taught me (and many others) multiplication. (If you know my math skills you know what a feat this is.) She entered me into beauty pageants. She let me drink milkshakes out of frozen beer mugs. She was the one who told me my mom had died and helped me get through it. She’s the one who told my dad the tooth fairy needed to keep coming. She and Michael helped me get my first real car and Michael taught me how to drive a stick. She sent me roses when I was in a play at the Abbeville Opera House. She took me sailing. She let me borrow her car for prom. She forced me to be in the Cotillion. She always made me wear sunscreen. She tried to teach me to waterski. The list goes on and on. I will never forget her and everything she did for me. I am sure she wasn’t perfect but I never knew. There is no doubt that when heaven gained Wanda there was a party like no other. They were probably playing the Stones (or at least some good beach music) and my mom may have had a Bloody Mary waiting on her. J She will be missed by many and there will be a hole in my heart that I will fill with memories of a woman that loved me dearly and taught me so much. It will be hard but Wanda’s life was so bright it won’t take long before the stories outweigh the sorrows and we laugh more than we cry. That in itself is more than we can say for most.