Strong Coffee and Strong Women

Posted By on Dec 25, 2012 | 24 comments

One of the teachers I used to work with told me once that she liked her coffee like she liked her men; dark, and rich.

Well, I don’t care too much about the money thing when it comes to women.  However, I do like them like I like my coffee; strong.

I love a good cup of coffee every morning.  Sometimes in the afternoon, too.

It’s not that it wakes me up so much as the fact that I just love the flavor.  And the stronger it is, the better the flavor.  At least for my palate.

Strong women are better too.

When I look back at history and see some of the great women and the things they accomplished, they are so fascinating to me.

Rosa Parks is one of the first ones that comes to mind as I scan through the last century in my mind.  Not only was she a woman but she was a minority, in a time where her particular race endured a great many trials.

I could go through a list of strong women in history that would number in the hundreds, but there’s one that stands out above all of them.

My mom.

I look at my mother’s life and am just completely baffled and humbled at all she’s been through and accomplished.

She went to a private high school and college, but had to pay her own way since her family wasn’t wealthy.  To do it, she worked late into the night at the campus laundry.  Apparently, she could fold more sheets and clothes in an hour than anyone else.

It was hard work, and must have been extremely difficult to balance that with athletics and academics.  But she did it.

She went on to earn a degree and become a teacher.  After years of teaching, she helped my father take over the family business his mother had started.

When the business experienced an extremely hostile takeover, my parents were left with nothing and had to declare bankruptcy in 1985.

Mom and dad went back to work as teachers but mom took on a second job, working the drive thru at a local Taco Bell.

If you have never taught at an inner city school, send me an email and I’ll be happy to tell you how exhausting it is.  She not only did that, she worked until the restaurant closed, five nights a week on top of her teaching gig.

She did it so that our family could eat, have a place to sleep, and even some toys.

After the IRS had had their fill of her paychecks, mom didn’t have to work the side job anymore.  At that point she had left fast food and been working as a greeter at Olive Garden.  She worked at one of the city’s worst schools for another ten years.  Finally, after nearly two decades in that tough school environment, she got transferred to a new elementary school, ten minutes from their house, where she worked until retiring a few years ago.

Now she is loving retirement and being a grandmother.

I look at the life my mother has led and wonder how she did it.  There is no way I’m strong enough or have enough energy to do what she did.  I guess that old saying is true, “they don’t make ’em like they used to.”  At least that’s what she tells me.

Strong women are all around us.  If you’ve read any of my books, you may have noticed my female characters have some strong qualities.  They’re my favorite characters to create.  Their perseverance is not only admirable, it’s infectious, intoxicating, and, in my case, life saving.  And let’s face it, they’re just a lot less boring, like a strong cup of coffee.

So, the next time you have a good cup of joe, raise it up in a salute to the strong women in your life who have made your world a better, more interesting place.

Here’s to you, mom, and all the other strong women out there.


  1. What a beautiful, loving tribute to an obviously strong, determined, devoted Mother & Wife; as a woman in my 40’s I’m proud to say I have followed her path myself but didn’t have the parental example to follow. I hope someday my son will see me as an adult in a similar fashion. It’s also validating to know there are indeed men out in the world who appreciate strong women! Glad I took the time to read this, I’ll be back to read more!

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  2. Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m glad you liked it.
    Sometimes it takes people a little growing up before they “get it.” But they usually do, so give it time.
    And yes, there are a few of us who appreciate strong women. The ones who aren’t are just too darn boring to me.

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  3. I love the tenacity of a strong woman. Never, never, never give up. That’s inspiring.

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  4. Very well said Dempsey. Your Mother must be proud of the fact that you not only appreciate her strength but also have respect for it. Enjoyed the short read very much.

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    • Thanks Lora!
      Glad you enjoyed it.
      Guess I’ll have to share the link with my mom at some point 😉

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  5. Very nice post.

    As the mother of teenaged boys, it gives me hope that they may come to appreciate the work it takes to feed/clothe/shelter them.

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    • Thanks, Lisa.
      I learned a long time ago that the those little things you mentioned, feed/clothe/shelter, seem so basic and simple but they are the most important things to maintain life. Yet, many people take them for granted.
      I’m sure someday they will appreciate all your hard work. 🙂

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  6. Er’nest —

    “of the two sexes, there is no question as to the stronger, the female … With one exception … The male who understands that.” … You ‘get that.’ Tip of the hat!

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    • I like Edward’s reply. It does seem difficult to find the men who understand and appreciate strong women.

      Ernest, I didn’t realize you had written the stories you’ve listed on this site. I will have to look your books up on my phone. It’s cool that you’ve integrated your love for writing strong female characters in all your writing. I’m looking forward to reading them 🙂

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      • I hope you enjoy them!

        My mom likes them so as long as she’s entertained I’ll keep going. 😉

        As I go forward, I’m going to be writing a lot more material that features some of the women in my books. Essentially, I will create their own series.

        Going to be fun. 🙂

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  7. I’m reading this early in the morning before my coffee, and had to pause in writing this comment to go get a cup. Love strong women and strong coffee as well. I’ve been blessed with some strong women in my life as well. My wife is #1. Your mom sounds amazing–her work ethic is inspiring.

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    • That’s great, Skip. You’re definitely lucky to have the wife as numero uno. 🙂
      Yeah, mom’s pretty great. And her work ethic is pretty amazing.
      Thanks for taking the time to share. 🙂

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  8. Best post I’ve read all day! (And I read a lot of posts…haha!) Your mom is one tough cookie, but obviously knew how to raise her kids to have a heart, some sensitivity, and to be great citizens of this world. I always thought she was awesome. 🙂

    So….did you let her read what you wrote yet? 😉

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    • Yeah, she saw it for the first time tonight. lol I posted it a few weeks ago but felt a little weird about showing it to her. She really appreciate it. 🙂
      Thanks for checking it out 🙂

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  9. Great tribute to a great woman; as a parent, knowing that you ultimately made a difference in your kid’s life that they will eventually perceive and appreciate… will make her feel more accomplished than any teaching award or paycheck she’s ever earned. Keep it up. JM

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  10. Ernestine,
    Great read! Nice shout out to your mom. She had to be strong raising 3 boys along with a daughter. I always knew she was a strong women but I didn’t know a lot of what she endured, thanks for sharing. Way to go mama Demps!

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  11. Your Mother is a very humble, selfless person. There is a quite greatness about her and she would try to deny that. She does so much giving of herself to others, I often wondered if she knows how special she is to a lot of people. Thank you for honoring her with your words of tribute. I know they touched her heart to the point of tears. Hold her in your arms every chance you get. We Mothers think our sons hung the Moon you know. Love ya.

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    • Thanks Cathy! I don’t think it matters to her. But since the day she read it she said she has read it like four times. So I think she knows how appreciated she is. 🙂

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  12. This is such a sweet tribute to your mom. Work ethic is by far the best trait anyone can have in my opinion. It’s amazing what someone will do when they have their family and their kids depending on them. I think you’ve inherited that work ethic for sure. I’m glad your mom is now enjoying retirement and being a grandmother. It’s obviously very well deserved!

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    • Thanks Cat!
      I agree. Work ethic is so important. I feel like a slacker, though, compared to her. lol

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  13. Love this tribute to your amazing Mom! Beautifully written!

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