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Berdine's Corner

A True Lady Who Led By Example!

by Ethel Battle

berdine dennard
Berdine Dillard Dennard

Life Lessons from a Matriarch

She was once, twice, three times a lady. Lionel Richie had to be thinking of Berdine when he wrote this song. If I had to choose a lady who best fits this label out of all the women in the whole wide world, Berdine would be my choice. She was my big sister and was a class act, born with a little something extra. I was around her my entire life, and I can tell you that she didn’t change regardless who was around; she was the same all of the time.

Growing up with her, Berdine was always teaching me things. She was like my second mother. I loved sleeping in her room, so I had to stay on my toes as a little girl. I shared a room with her, and she taught me how to clean. I had to keep everything in its place, or I would be put out. Berdine would comb my hair; show me how to stay clean and to use what I had to take care of myself. We didn’t have much, but she instilled in me the value of making the most of what I had. She wanted me to be the best I could be in any situation.

When I was a teenager, she continued to teach me by exposing me to new places. When she and her husband Herbert would take their children on family trips, they would take me with them. She would tell me that she needed me to help with the kids, but I knew she really wanted to allow me to see places I had never seen.

I also got an opportunity to live with them after her daughter Debbie was born. This is where I learned many lessons on family values up close and personal. I watched her example and learned many family lessons.

Because Berdine was a mother figure in my life, once we were grown, my sisters and I didn't always include her when we would hang out. I remember her asking why didn't we ask her to hang out. I told her that it would be like going out with your mother. However, my sisters and I began including her and our relationship deepened. Even though we still really respected her, we began to enjoy her in her role as our sister. We went on cruises, family trips, church outings, and parties together. We spent every holiday together. I will forever cherish those memories. Because she had married at such a young age, Berdine missed dating. She was often curious about my life. The two of us shared much laughter and conversations about my dating life.

My sister Berdine will live in my heart forever because of her beautiful nature and loving spirit. Everyone who crossed her path was blessed with her kindness and love. I learned so much from her. As an older sister, she taught me to take care of myself, to take care of a house, and most importantly, to take care of family. She was the virtuous woman described in Proverbs. My big sister taught me what it meant to be a lady because she taught by example. We can all learn from her. It is important to instill in others values and morals, but the most important lesson I learned from her is to lead by example.

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Berdine Dillard Denanrd and Ethel Battle