I was raised by the two strongest women on the planet, my mother and grandmother. To say we didn’t have a lot growing up is an understatement.

My daddy and mother divorced when I was 12, and there were 6 women in the house, my grandmother, mother and us 4 girls, Faith, Hope, Charity (me) and Joy (yes, those are our real names).

We were all very bonded growing up because we were all each other had. We loved and cared for each other so much.

Strong Women aren’t simply born. They are made by the storms they walk through.

When daddy left, mother had no marketable skills and no education past high school. She was young when she married and she devoted her life to us girls, my grandmother and our home and farm.

My grandmother worked at Avondale Mills during the early hours and came home and worked on the farm with mother and us girls until it was time for dinner and we’d all eat together.

At the time, none of us realized how little we had. Mother was the backbone for the family. She got a full-time job, went to school full-time and worked her fingers to the bone to make things better for us.

She went to school during the day and worked 3 p.m. – 11 p.m. at night as a nursing assistant. Because we lived so far from the college she was attending, she sat in her car between classes and studied.

Some days were bitter cold and she carried blankets with her to keep herself warm in the car while she was waiting for the next class. When she finished her classes for the day, she went to her nursing assistant job.

Because of all her hard work, she entered and completed nursing school. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, her RN degree and worked as a Charge Nurse for more than 35 years.

Later in life, she obtained a Master’s degree and a Doctorate degree. Most people who know her do not know what it took from her to get to where she wound up. But we know. And God knows.

My mother and grandmother were made by all the storms they went through. They came out of each storm a stronger person.

And they never lost their faith in God. We always went to Church and Mother and Mama never stopped giving.

Blessings of happiness, love and light to you from Sterrett, Alabama!

Charity M. Richey-Bentley