What was the happiest moment of your life?
Being a witness to the opportunities my granddaughters have access to. My eldest granddaughter is a pioneer in the bio-physics department at UC San Diego, another is studying medical technologies, one is focused on a degree in business and another is sure to become a professional softball player. The two youngest granddaughters are intelligent, animated and thoughtful – they are sure to make this world a better place.
Who has been most influential in your life?
Ralph Wittrock, my ex-husband’s father. Ralph believed in me and always encouraged me when I didn’t believe in myself. It takes courage to believe in someone else and then empower their efforts. Not many people these days have that kind of character.
What advice or quote did you always try to live by?
The guiding principles that always helped me navigate life’s toughest times were honesty, compassion, strength, independence, standing up for yourself, maintaining a strong work ethic, owning up to your mistakes, and always apologize when needed. When raising foster children, it was always my goal to teach these life skills to them. All my children, including my foster daughter, Elise, truly showed me how much of a ripple solid values can have.
What is one memory from your past you cherish?
I will always cherish my time in the church choir, especially when I went to Europe to sing for Pope John Paul II in the 1980’s.
Any regrets or advice you’d give to a younger you?
I would say, be true to yourself. This world makes it harder and harder to love yourself but you can do it. And, don’t worry so much about what other people’s opinions and perceptions of who you are – you are good enough just as you are.
Anything else you wish to share?
At this stage of life, it’s fascinating to look back on my past. I didn’t have it easy. I didn’t have a lot of opportunities. And yet I cow-girled up and made things possible. There are so many ways to leave a positive mark on the earth. Decide now what you want your legacy to be and one by one do the things that will get you closer to that goal.