Perceptive mother shared her value of independence

Ella Mae Dickinson Massie and daughter Betty.

My mother died when I was 28 years old as we were fast becoming adult friends. I was just beginning to value her subtle advice about life, and womanhood in particular.

I recall once talking with her as a teen. I can picture the setting to this day: She was ironing in my bedroom and I lay across my bed talking about college possibilities. She, herself, had been a fourth-grade teacher until she and my dad were married.

“The most important thing,” she said, “is for you to be able to support yourself, if necessary. Do not become dependent on anyone to support you. Anything can happen: divorce, disability or death. You need to be able to make it on your own.”

I have passed this good advice on to my own daughter and granddaughters. I now see my mother as being very perceptive 60 years ago at a time when women were very dependent on their husbands. Fortunately, neither she nor I ever needed to make it on our own.

Betty M. Settle