Teri’s Notebook: Celebrating the women who made me | NevadaAppeal.com

Teri’s Notebook: Celebrating the women who made me

Teri Vance
My sisters Casandra, left, Leanna, bottom right, Lynsey, bottom left, have been the women who most influenced my life.
Teri Vance / Nevada Appeal

It’s National Women’s History Month, and as I write this column, it’s National Women’s Day.

The purpose, as explained by the Smithsonian Institute, is to “amplify women’s voices to honor the past, inform the present and inspire the future.

“The stories we tell deepen our understanding of women’s contributions to America and the world, showing how far women have advanced and how we as a country value equality and the contributions of all our citizens.”

It’s a simple concept, really. Include women in the stories we pass down to the next generation, write books about them, show female heroines in the movies. Too often, women are erased from the collective history simply because we don’t talk about them.

Originally, I planned to research notable Nevada women and share bits of their stories.

But I can’t help but be drawn to the stories of the women in my own life. I am one of four daughters raised on a ranch by parents who never once lamented their lack of sons.

We worked alongside our dad like there was no alternative, because there wasn’t. Boys could not have done it better.

So it was that narrative that shaped my view of women — that we were just people. And there was immense freedom in not being confined to a gender role.

Rather than look online for inspiration, I decided to look inside — at the women who are part of me and shaped me and who continue to guide my course.

Meet my sisters.

Leanna: Leanna is the oldest and, as such, was given a lot of responsibility from a young age. She knows how to get stuff done — and if she doesn’t, she’ll figure out a way.

Leanna had four boys in five years, then added two little girls. She’s raising her six kids on 40 sagebrush-covered acres in Elko County.

I remember talking to her on the phone once and she said, “Hang on, I have to go shoot a coyote in my backyard.”

Her old dog was in the yard and looking attractive to the predators.

She handed the baby in her arms to her oldest son and grabbed the rifle.

She got back on the phone.

“Well, I didn’t kill it, but I think I did nick it,” she said, and then just went back to the conversation we were having.

If God made men to match his mountains, he gave Leanna a rugged charm to match his high desert.

Casandra: Casandra is the third daughter, just younger than me. She is the toughest, yet softest, of us all.

She’s the first one to call you out on your bull, but the first one to forgive and love up on you as well.

After her fifth baby (as I’ve written about before), Casandra went into heart failure, followed by a cancer diagnosis.

It was enough to break most people.

But Casandra doesn’t break. Sure, she cried and she struggled — mostly for what she thought her children would suffer — but she carried on.

Most importantly, she healed. It is a gift she has. She heals.

Not only has she been able to recover from her own near devastating medical conditions, she has a way of healing those around her.

She takes a little tough love tincture and mixes in a heavy dose of compassion and unfiltered love to make a balm that can heal anything that ails you.

Lynsey: Lynsey is our baby. In most families, I think that means she would be the one who was the most doted on and pampered. I’m afraid in our family, it may have meant she took the brunt of our abuse.

In a family full of strong personalities, Lynsey is more mellow.

But don’t let that fool you.

Still waters run deep, and are strong enough to cut through mountains. So is Lynsey.

I may be able to cajole, convince or even bribe my other sisters to do something my way. But when it comes to Lynsey, she will do it her way, and there’s no other way around it.

Life hasn’t always been easy for her, but she forges on with tenacity, grit and humor.

She believes in doing good and doing right.

She believes in family. She shows up.

If Lynsey’s around, you’ll always get a hug … and usually a laugh.

I am beyond fortunate for the women who were just handed to me. I hope to never forget that or take that for granted.