Ever been in a funk that you just can’t shake?
That was me in the Fall of 2014. My grandmother has passed away over the summer and I missed her. I mean I really missed her. The sadness was always there, just below the surface, waiting for any opportunity to show itself.
I knew it was completely normal- I mean, it was a big loss- but I just wanted it to stop. I wanted to stop feeling sad, I wanted healing and I wanted to get to a point where I could remember the good without feeling so utterly bad.
So I decided to do something to honor my grandmother while working through my grief. I spent 40 days blessing, surprising, thanking and encouraging others, all in honor of the incredible person that Phyllis Leathers was. 40 random acts of kindness to honor one amazing life.
The adventure starts here.
Phyllis Mae was born in a farmhouse outside of Chatsworth, Ill. on August 22, 1932, the fifth child to Alice and Clarence. She joined brothers Kenny and Glenn and sisters Marilyn and Shirley on the family farm. The family eventually moved from the country into Chatsworth and Phyllis became a big sister to brothers to Dave and Bob.
In 1949, she married her high school sweetheart, Virgil. They started their family in Illinois, becoming loving parents to Randy, Gary, Tim and Diane. Phyllis and Virgil’s dream of sunshine and beaches came true in 1957 when the family moved 1100 miles south to Florida. They bought a beautiful home and raised their family in Pinellas Park.
Phyllis entered the workforce in the ‘60s. She began a career at General Electric that lasted more than 30 years. A beautiful and smart woman, in 1962, she was the first runner up in the Miss GE Pageant. She and Virgil eventually divorced and Phyllis fell in love with a handsome engineer she met at GE, Bill.
Phyllis and Bill dated for more than 30 years. Weekends would find them at their favorite beach, Fort De Soto, searching for sharks’ teeth in Venice, squeezing tangelos from a tree in Phyllis’ backyard or grilling steaks. Phyllis lost the love of her life on December 26, 2002.
Phyllis was a generous and loving woman. She supported numerous charities and assisted her grandchildren with their college education, but her greatest gift involved literally giving a piece of herself away when she donated a kidney to her brother Dave.
On June 10, 2014, Phyllis joined her best friend and longtime love Bill, her cherished grandson Randy, brothers Kenny, Glenn and Dave and sister Marilyn in heaven. Her legacy of love continues through her children, grandchildren Bobby, Ronnie, April, Windy, Ryan and Ryan and great-grandchildren Nathan, Andrew, Jordan, Emily, Tristan, Cameron and Easton.