The pinnacle of her cheerleading success came when her squad qualified for the national cheerleading finals on ESPN in Dallas. The squad performed well and enjoyed exploring Dallas eateries and the shopping delights. The precision of each squad demanded they perform their presentation in four minutes, in one second more nor one second less. Squads achieved this.
Her senior year came, the year for every good thing to happen in a young woman’s life. The success was crowned with her election to class homecoming queen. In this, she was humbled and pleased that she was selected by her peers; she felt she had truly arrived at acceptance by her society. She totally enjoyed each aspect of the duties and celebrations that encompassed this honor. She carried herself regally and without conceit through it, at times even fending off the aggressive behaviors of girls not selected to the title. Really aggressive, like being threatened by knife-point when she was least expecting it.
A movie, Space Camp, inspired her desire to attend the real Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. I obtained a job working in a bookstore, saved for the tuition and trip expenses, and we were off. Totally amazed I didn’t get lost on the way to Huntsville, we ended up excitedly enrolling her in her group. She suited up in her astronaut duds and after a quick tour of her space ship accommodations, she started her camp and I started my tour of Huntsville. She was so inspired to learn from this trip. Part of the astronaut training involved scuba diving in a huge tank that had portals that allowed visitors to watch. It inspired her so much that upon her return to her hometown, she signed up for scuba lessons and earned her scuba-diving certification at Lake Norfork, Arkansas.
She also met a young man there that quickly resulted in romance. He was from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and they were chastened for their PDAs (Public Displays of Affection). It was quickly evident that this could well be the love of her life. His treatment of her was totally cavalier and unconditionally loving. He visited her later in Harrison and she visited him at Purdue University when he started. Tragedy struck when a few years later he was killed in a car wreck; we still don’t understand why. As a mother, I would gladly welcome him as my daughter’s life-long partner in marriage. His treatment of her was wonderful, no selfishness …
Well, it was back to school and all that it meant. Graduation finally came and went and Liz decided to move to Springfield, Missouri because Harrison got too small for her taste and she needed a place to go to school. She always wanted to go to school in Springfield, so she packed her bags and took off not looking back, one of Liz’s most admirable traits! This girl is going places!
Liz found a job as a marketing director for a local dance club and quickly displayed her joy and talent in pulling together promotions. She was also responsible for placing radio spots on area stations—of which there are many in Springfield—and advertising the club’s upcoming events, bands, and talent. Celebrating her twenty-second birthday here, she was asked by a co-worker to retrieve a telephone book from a nearby drawer. Pulling out the drawer and reaching in, Liz gasped at observing a tiny, gray, quivering, shiny-eyed puppy miniature schnauzer. Liz squealed at her discovery and first introduction to her best friend in life now. The schnauzer became Chiquita, Spanish for “little girl.” Chiquita has been with Liz ever since and navigated the ups and downs of her life with her as a never-ending comfort and bosom-buddy.
It was difficult going in college financially; she became about $20,000 in debt because of it, but claims it was worth it. Her original major was marketing but she quickly changed it to mass communications after she excitedly called me and said, “Guess what happened!” She told me she was offered a radio DJ position after having worked as marketing director for a local club. The radio station had come to know her through her orchestration of club radio “spots” she was responsible for. The first order of business now was coming up with a “radio name.” She asked my opinion, to which I offered Liz Landers. She ended up as Liz Valentine in Springfield and surrounding areas in radio-land.
Liz first broadcast was the baseline for steady development as a top-rate radio personality in Springfield. Each show revealed growth in her voice quality and her apparent ability to come up with instant patter with her first partner, Jeff. They bounced off of each other perfectly. She found she liked the early morning show, as it fit with her morning inner clock. This clock was evident from early childhood as I observed as her mother. I believe there is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing your child happy and successful doing what she truly enjoys in life.
St. Patrick’s Day in the year 2000, I was lucky enough to visit my daughter on her jobsite and observe her in the thick of her profession. Packing my trusty Minolta with zoom lens, I captured images of this red-headed daughter be-spectacled with green-shamrocked lens, head-phoned, microphoned with her power-pack strapped on her waist to show her fans she is a natural. Her assignment was to interview the lines of passers-by now milling in front of the radio station with questions that if answered correctly were rewarded with passes and coupons to nearby community events. Energy bouncing and emanating from this radio-personality that knew just how to pull it together and get the show on the road. What an asset to the studio!
Her empathy emanated over the airwaves and drew in the interest of one little boy who road his bike many miles from home to peer up into the station windows looking for the person that belonged to the voice of Liz Valentine. Looking down at him, Liz joyfully began her trip down the stairs to meet this persistent young fan. She greeted him and presented him with a trip to the prize closet for his visit.
One day this mother received a telephone call from her beloved daughter with the news that said daughter had skydove last week and was it great! Seems that Liz had interviewed skydiving teachers and had been offered a free skydive. Viewing the video of it was exhilarating (now that she was safely down to earth). The camera showed Liz screaming at every bump of the plane as it ascended to the height they were to fall from. It was time, but the skydiving teacher she was strapped to couldn’t pry her fingers from the plane doors. Finally, she let go and from then on Liz said it was wonderful.
Part 1 | Part 2