A normal day at the Connolly house consists of sitting around the living room, my step-mom; Bonita (Bonnie) Jean Young Connolly in her chair, my dad lying down on the floor, and the kids sitting on the couch and on the floor, all listening to my step-mom tell about her day, constantly joking about everything anyone says. From living in Sierra Leone playing with monkeys and helping Africans, to living in Keymar, Frederick, with four kids of her own and three step-kids helping everyone she can, my step-mom has been more like a mother to me than a step-mom. She is the most caring person I have ever met, and probably ever will meet. Not a day goes by where she hasn't helped out one person.
In 1945, my Grandmother and Grandfather and two of my uncles were hiding in a boat to Africa during the war, my Grandmother six months pregnant, prayed everyday that she would be okay.
My Grandfather, a minister, was going over to Africa to attend to Africans that were in need. While they were living in a small house in Sierra Leone, my step-mom was born on August 2nd, 1945. "All I remember from living in Africa was eating Casava leaves. I can't remember what they tasted like, but I liked them,"ÃÂ she says while giving out a soft giggle. "Also, I remember my parents always helping Africans, feeding them, giving them clothes, teaching them,"ÃÂ she says smiling, as she looks down at the table.
She moved to the United States in 1948, my Grandfather taking over the ministry at a nearby church. "Being a minister's daughter was great,"ÃÂ she says, pausing for a second, "sometimes."ÃÂ All the people in the church helped out with everything. "We were very poor so we needed a lot of help."ÃÂ "Growing up as the youngest, and the only girl was nice,"ÃÂ she says. "My parents spoiled me the most,"ÃÂ she adds, smiling. "But I grew up to be a huge tomboy, wearing my brother's hand-me-downs. I was very athletic. I was very competitive with my brothers, and they were nerds, so I beat them in all of the sports,"ÃÂ she gloats, laughing while she says it.
As we sit in the living room, her in the chair she always sits in, and me in the recliner, I start to look around the room. She is very much like a grandmother. Lots of family pictures are hanging up on the walls; there is a lit fireplace, furniture that looks comfortable, nothing is too fancy. The room is very old-fashioned; there is an old wood trunk that my Grandfather brought home from Africa.
I start to remember all the things we would do. Every year at Christmas, the whole family would sit in one room with hundreds of presents covering the floor, eating homemade sticky buns and cozying up by the fire. And each of us has to open one present at a time, getting embarrassed by everyone staring at you, waiting for your reaction. The thing everyone dreaded about Christmas, that and going to the Christmas Eve church service at 11p.m. But opening all those presents makes all of it worthwhile.
After my dad married her, my life has split in two. Living two completely different lives. One, at my mom's house, where everything is busy, no one ever home, no one ever sitting down and talking with each other. The other, a very slow-paced house, where every problem is followed by a conversation, not yelling at someone like at my mom's house. And if I had to pick the house I would like to live at more, it would definitely be my dad's.
She starts to tell about her college life, how she wanted to be a nurse at first, until she failed her biology class. "My professor made us do this lab which consisted of one person drinking a lot of salt water and peeing in a cup. And of course I was the "lucky"ÃÂ one who got to be the victim. This was a class full of football players and I had to walk out of the room with a cup and come back with that cup full of my pee. I don't think I have ever been so embarrassed in my life."ÃÂ Living her life day by day, helping people out just by talking to them is the best way to describe my stepmother. Her advice for us kids is to love people for who they are, not to be judgmental, and to allow God to be a part of our life in a personal way.
"I want to be remembered for taking time to help people be who they really want to be. And to be remembered for someone who really cares and listens to you and loves everyone."ÃÂ Bonnie Connolly has led a life in which she took the time to listen to everyone that she came in contact with and she tried to touch his or her lives in some way. From being a social worker, a very active person in the church, to being a wonderful mother and stepmother, my stepmother has proved that she has accomplished more than enough in her life.