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  • Emily Van Gorder-Pantig

Dee Dee

This post goes to mom. If I'm being honest, I struggled to come up with what I wanted to write in this. I wanted to be honest and I also wanted to pay tribute to the individual who molded a large part of who I am.


I grew up with a relatively normal childhood. I lived in a two car, single story home until we moved in '95 and then it was a 2 -story home. It was me, my mom, my dad and my brother. I swam in the summertime in our backyard pool and I rode my bike for fun. My mom volunteered at school. She was involved with PTA and raised money for my Catholic school. I remember one summer, she was my girl scout camp leader until my brother came down Chicken Pox. She and my dad signed me up and encouraged my love of theatre. I remember them volunteering backstage, helping build sets and putting together opening night parties. She loved to craft and sew and my brother and I always had the best costumes for any opportunity to get dressed up. We played sports, although we weren't the best at it. Everyday, my mom picked us up from school and my dad would return home from work at 5. My mom made dinner just about every night. She loved her garden, to cook and her kitchen. Her whole world was us. Everyone was close and it was a pretty idyllic childhood.


Eventually, I would grow up and fly the coop. I would get married and through a series of events, I made some self discoveries that didn't necessarily reflect what I grew up believing to be my truth. It was a challenging time for everyone in my family. I had a really difficult couple of years and I sought out help to sort through this variety of yuck that I was fighting internally. My mom and I got into a series of rough disagreements. At that point, I needed to separate myself from my parents and we went through several years of not speaking. In that time, I was able to work through a lot and grew tremendously as a person. As much as I didn't want to hurt my family, (and my mom especially) It was best for all that we go through this challenging time. As fate would have it, I eventually ran into my dad locally and we started to patch through our differences. Eventually, my mom would enter the picture again and I am really happy to say that I am able to appreciate my parents for the individuals they are. They did the best job that they could raising me and my brother and I know that without that difficult time in our overall history, we wouldn't be where we are now. We can spend time together, again. The love is present. She still loves her garden, and cooking and her kitchen. She loves sharing those things with her ladies. I love watching her with her granddaughters and I know she will impart her love on them in a whole new way. She has grown. I can admire the new ways she has learned to adapt to the individual I have become too. So, thank you mom. I know wasn't easy for you either. I know there are things we won't always agree on but I am glad we are moving forward together.


All hail to the original queen. ❤

*******************************************************************************************


What is your name and how do we know each other?

"My name is Diana Van Gorder..however, I have been known as Dee Dee since I was 2. I know you because 37 years ago, I gave birth to you."


How old are you?

"63"


What are you currently doing with yourself?

"It’s different. I am very involved with my church. I am very involved with the lives of my grandchildren. Not raising a husband anymore. We travel. I feel like I’m busier now that I don’t get paid for what I do. "


Are you where you hoped you would be? If not/ Why? If so-what do you love about it and could you see yourself doing anything else?

"Am I happy with where my life is? Yes. What do I love about it? I have the time to spend with the people that I love and it also affords me to do the things that love. Like travel, gardening and going to dinner parties. We have more flexibility to do the things we love. "



Women are becoming a resilient sound that cannot be silenced. What are you doing to contribute that sound?

"Uhh..let me see. If there is someway I can impart some knowledge to my grandkids..how about this? I don’t want to be the grandparents that I had. I want to be better than that. First of all, by spending time with them and teaching them something. I think that women took such a back seat in the older generations...that my age range is finally realizing their independence. Women’s independence and liberation in the 60’s and 70’s started and from there it just grew. Your grandmother’s were both very dependent on your grandfathers...I kind of feel like I’ve broken from that dependence. "


What is something you learned from a younger age that has stuck with you?

"Take your makeup off before you go bed. Always balance your check book. Be kind. Open the door for people. Exercise is important. Be a good saver. We don’t have time for everything I learned when I was young. I know! All the lyrics to songs from the 70s. I remember those too!"


Who is an individual who made a profound impact on you and why?

"I would probably say my father. My dad gave me a sense of responsibility and fairness and he was just a good guy. He wasn’t jaded like my mom was. He didn’t grow up the way she did. He had a totally different child than my mom did. He rescued her. That sounds very 1950’s but it’s true. He made it all better...How about that? "


What is a weakness or something that exposes your vulnerability and what do you do to combat/embrace it in order to grow?

"I would say I am critical but that’s because I’m really hard on myself...and because I’m hard on myself, I’m hard on other people. I pray. I don’t embrace it by any means..I don’t embrace being judgmental..I want to be better. "


What is something that you want to accomplish and what are you doing to get to that place, if anything?

"Probably at this point in my life..just being a better person. "


And now..a few questions to lighten the mood...


Dogs or Cats?

"Neither. Ugh. Listen, I would be sad if something happened to Roscoe." (My old dog who now lives my parents).


Cheeseburgers or Salad?

"It depends on the cheeseburger. I would say both. "


Beach or Mountains?

"Used to beach when I was teenager. Now I guess mountains. "


Sweet or Salty?

"It depends. I like food."


Lose all of your old memories or never make new ones?

"I guess never make new ones."


Disney..or is there any alternative?

"Avengers. I do like Disney. "


What is a fun fact that someone may not know about you?

"That I sang with the Carpenters when I was younger. "


And the final two important questions...


What is a common misconception about you that people make based on your appearance? What is your truth and how do you personify strength?

"This happened ever since I was kid...people thought I was snotty. I’m not. Because I present myself a certain way, people were intimidated to talk to me and then once they got to know me the would say 'oh you're so funny and nice!' People had a misconception about all 3 of us (meaning her and her sisters)...They thought we were aloof and snotty because we looked a certain way. I’m a really a nice, funny person. I am intelligent and loyal. I will be a friend to the end."


You have inspired me. What about yourself do you hope to put out in order to inspire other young people?

"Umm...Kinda going back to the question about my grandparents..I want to teach my grandchildren things that I wish my grandparents taught me...for instance-Spanish, how to make tamales, cultural things. My grandma also gardened...I didn’t even know that. "



















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© 2017 by Emily Van Gorder-Pantig.