February 19, 2022
"She considers a field and buys it with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard." – Proverbs 31:16.
My interview with Sally Periman didn't last all that long but the words she shared with me spoke volumes. I was reminded of something I had recently read in a journal from Joshua publishing: "She may be quiet but she is a warrior and her prayers can move mountains." Sally made a deep impression. She reminded me of the true meaning of a life well lived. Sally is an example of Proverbs 31 - generous, virtuous, hard working, noble and clothed with dignity.
Sally Denise Periman Lawrence – A woman of quiet strength
"Strong women need not declare they can carry all the burdens in life. They just quietly do it and survive with a smile."
– author unknown
She's a California girl. Sally Denise Periman Lawrence was born and raised in Salinas. The Salinas Valley is known as the "Salad Bowl of the World" for its produce, flowers and grape vineyards. Sally remembers picking strawberries every summer. In the early 60s the farms hired teenagers to help harvest the crops. But growing up, her favorite thing to do in the summer was running. Sally said running made her heart sing. She loved to play "capture the flag" at the park. Sally was also involved in service organizations. From a young age, service to others has been important to her. It's just part of who she is. She also loved to play the piano and sing. The song in her heart has always been a part of her life and it shows. Her song is contagious. Just being around Sally feels like a warm hug.
When she was in junior high her family moved to Chico. After high school, she started college, and married young. Like many of us who married right out of college, the marriage didn't last. But the gift from her first marriage was two wonderful children and a beautiful granddaughter. Prior to the birth of her children, she worked with special education preschool children and also in a dental office. Serving has always been a part of her life.
In 1999, Sally married a wonderful man from her church. They moved to Tehachapi that same year. The couple sang together on the praise team and her husband taught Bible studies in their home. There were three couples in the study group. Sally remembers that one by one, each of the couples lost a spouse. Her own husband passed away in 2006.
She joined the Woods Family staff in 2006 after her husband's passing and has been there ever since. Says Sally, "I love this town. People care about each other. I see that especially at the funeral home. You see how much people in the community care about their friends and neighbors."
Prior to working at the mortuary, she worked part time at Mountain Bible Church. She was involved with singing on the praise team and planning events. Says Sally, "I like to be involved in the community and just helping in different ways. Being here at the funeral home has given me a greater opportunity because you get to do more, see more and know what is happening in the community. I saw a need at Mountain Pathways and was able to help there. I like to help others. I was so grateful to Barbara and Jerry Woods when they brought me on. They are amazing people and were so gracious and kind to me. When they retired, I became the office manager. I don't know that I can call it a job, but it is the best job I have ever had. I am more fulfilled in this job being able to help families and see them through one of the hardest times in their lives. When you lose a loved one, you can't see straight, you can't think straight. To be able to take someone under your wing and try to help them through-that is amazing." In addition to being very busy at the funeral home, Sally is also involved with the Chamber of Commerce. She loves to sing, garden and create.
Sally met another wonderful man at the Mountain Bible Church and they married in 2017. In addition to all she has been through, she is a cancer survivor. When she got sick, she and her husband sold their house in Bear Valley and moved into town. She had a beautiful yard in her new home with a massive fish pond and big wonderful fish said Sally. When her husband retired they decided to downsize. They plan on traveling and spending time together. They bought a home in Mountain Aire and have been working on refurbishing it. Sally said her larger home was hard to give up but downsizing is a good thing. She says it is better to have something smaller because there will be less worry when they are traveling. They plan on flying to Florida soon, taking a cruise to the Caribbean and going to Panama. Sally said she has never been to Florida. She wants to go to Epcot Center and the Animal Kingdom. They're going to see the world together.
Even though Sally suffered the loss of a husband and is a cancer survivor, she doesn't see herself as a strong woman. Sally said, "I don't see myself that way. Some people say, How could you go through all that? Well, I could be a survivor of Katrina or I could be a woman living in Iraq. Yes, I went through cancer but some people have it so much worse." Sally's advice to others is to live with your cup half full, put yourself in other people's shoes and be positive. She says that now that she is retiring, she wants to volunteer more at her church, singing on the praise team and working in the gardens. She said, "I want to offer myself wherever I am needed. Here I am, just use me. I want to be His (God's) hands and feet."
Sally Denise Periman Lawrence, what a gift you are to all of us. We thank you.
Following is an expressive art activity to remind you of your strengths and the coping tools you might have forgotten you own.
Craft project – Tree of Strength
Supplies: large sheet of paper, markers or crayons.
1. Lay your hand on the paper, fingers spread, with your forearm on the paper. Trace your arm and hand. This will become the base of your tree. Your arm is the trunk and your fingers are the beginning of the branches.
2. At the end of the fingertips extend the drawing to create more branches. Draw several leaves large enough so that you can write on them.
3. On each leaf, write one thing that helps you get through difficult times, a strength that you have, or a coping skill you've learned to use.
4. Color, paint, or decorate your tree.
[Editor's note: Visit http://www.creativityintherapy.com/2017/04/tree-strength-art-directive/ for more detailed directions and an illustration of the Tree of Strength.]
"The Wisdom Keepers, Tehachapi Women of Substance and a Few Good Men" is a book in progress by Judith Campanaro, Tehachapi artist and resident. Judith's love of sharing inspirational stories of others prompted her to highlight amazing locals that make Tehachapi special. The Loop newspaper will feature excerpts from the book to give you a taste of our fabulous residents. If you would like a copy, please contact Judith at email@example.com. In the meantime if you'd like to recommend a local person for an interview send their name and number to Judith at firstname.lastname@example.org or (646) 896-4434. She will contact them.