Kathy Cunningham and I have been friends for almost 19 years. When we first met, she was working in a salon where I usually went to get my hair cut by a different stylist. One time, my regular stylist was sick when I was in desperate need of a haircut, so I went to Kathy instead. I never went back to my other stylist. In fact, nobody else cut my hair until Kathy quit cutting hair full time and went to nursing school . . . seventeen years later.
Through the years, I watched as Kathy raised her daughter, Jessie, and every month I'd get a glimpse into Kathy's life. Her deep love for her grandmother. Her devotion to her parents and brothers and nephews. Kathy also became acquainted with my family, and at one time or another, my sister and my parents went to her for haircuts. Kathy got to watch as my tummy grew in pregnancy, and then she got to meet Daniel, and eventually began cutting his hair. After she successfully was able to get him to sit in her chair without crying, he wouldn't let anyone else cut his hair except for "Miss Kathy" (and even these days will tell me that he'd rather go see Kathy than have me take him to the walk-in salon).
When I was going through the rough time of my marriage falling apart, my friendship with Kathy went to a new level. God put me on Kathy's heart one day and she called me to see how I was doing. She did not know that I had recently separated from my husband, but just felt like she should call and check on me. Her care and support during that time was a huge comfort to me and she was there with a listening ear for me whenever I needed her.
Over the years, Kathy shared with me her own hopes and dreams for her life. One of the things she had always wanted to do was to go to nursing school. As Jessie grew up and went to college, Kathy decided to pursue her own dream. She decided to apply to nursing school and started classes in the Fall of 2008. She stopped working at the salon, although she still stayed in touch with some of her clients (me and Daniel included). Nursing school was grueling at times, but she persevered.
This past Monday night, I was honored to be invited to Kathy's Nursing Pinning Ceremony. Daniel and I drove to Columbia State Community College to celebrate her accomplishment. Kathy gave one of the student speeches during the program, making everyone laugh at the way she described the past two years of nursing school. When it was Kathy's turn to receive her pin, her classmates cheered and her teachers were ready with hugs and congratulations. Her family was in the audience, and I'm sure were beaming with pride for her. I know I was, and still am!
I'm thankful to have Kathy as my friend and look forward to seeing how God will use her in the lives of those who are sick and hurting as she begins this new career. She has become not only my friend, but one of my heroes as well.
Way to go, Kathy!