top of page

Women Empowering Women | feature Don Nell Cunningham

The Crone :: The word, Crone, is derived from the old word for crown, suggesting the wisdom that emanates from the head like a halo. She is the wisdom keeper, seer and healer and midwife, whose knowledge is sought out to guide others during life's hardships and transitions.

Women who empower others, thats a gift, especially when it comes naturally. I have a lot of women in my life,.... friends, healers, teachers, and family, who have empowered me in so many different ways. My grandmother, however, as been a women I have looked up to my whole life. She was probably the first inspiring woman I tried to aspire, too. The way she always had something wise and nurturing to say no matter what experience I was going through, the unconditional support through all phases of my life, and her willingness to always be available if you need her. So, what better way to understand her life and hear her wisdom than through a post like this! I am so grateful for Don Nell Carnes Cunningham, I think once you read her story, you'll have a better idea of the cloth I was cut from. Thank you, Maga, for always being a rock and inspiration to all us gals in your family.

I was born in McCamey, Texas on July 23rd, 1944.  My family later moved to Ozona, Texas where I finished school and proceeded to Texas Tech in Lubbock.  I married my High School sweetheart in 1963 and we were blessed with two daughters.  My husband worked for Amoco Oil Company and we moved many times in our marriage.  We lived in Andrews, Midland, Odessa, Houston (three times), Ft. Worth and Chicago during our marriage.  I have never worked outside the home and enjoyed being a wife and mother.  Later I loved being a grandmother to  4 granddaughters, two grandsons and 5 great grandchildren. 

What’s your story? I grew up in Ozona, Texas thinking I was not worth much as my father worked in the oil industry and we were called "Oil Field Trash" during my school years.  My Dad didn't make a lot of money but we always had food on the table and love in our home.  I would go with my Dad to the feed store to buy the feed for our cow as the sack would become my next dress.  My mother loved to sew and she made most of my clothes until I was in High School.  After I married and became a wife and mother I had great difficulty getting that "Oil Field Trash" out of my mind but as the years went by, it affected me less and less.  As my girls grew, I served in their schools in anyway I could.  I was home room mother, on the PTA, etc.  My girls were in sports and sometimes, they played at the same time on the same day and my husband and I would spit up so our girl's had a parent watching their game.  My family has always come first and as the years have passed, that has remained consistent.  I thought after being a mom,  being a grandmother was the best thing I would ever experience but then came along Great Grandchildren and the feelings grew even stronger.  I was meant to be a wife and mom and I thank God each day for the blessings he has given me. 

What do you love most about yourself?

I love helping my family, friends and community.  I love to "give back" and/or pay it forward. 

What gets you truly excited about life? 

Through the years, there have been many things that excited me about life.....when my husband had been gone for a week and he came home always made me happy.  It excited me when my children achieved what they thought was an impossible problem.  When I finally got up on a one water ski and didn't fall down excited me.  So many trips with my husband has excited me;  we have hiked in most of the National Parks and have gone to all 50 states.  These days, I am always excited when any of the grandchildren/ great grandchildren come to visit.   It excites me , knowing I will get to visit with them and hold on to that bond we have. 

How would you define your purpose in life or what is the most important thing to you in life now?

At 75 years of age, I see my life much differently than I did when I was younger.  It is important that I am available for my family when called on.  I need to be there for my husband's needs  as we age while taking care of myself. 

You are always "our rock" for the women in our family, what are some of the patterns you see in us all that you've supported us in? 

I was so blessed to be there for each of my granddaughters when they were born.  I was there many times when they took their fist steps.  I have cried when they cried and laughed when they laughed.  I have been there when their world turned up side down.  My heart has broken many times when they were hurt, sad or disappointed.  All of my granddaughters are different but yet they are all the same.  They went through some very hard times when they were young but they are all loving and responsible young women of today.  They could have given up and said I can't do anything about how I feel, the disappointments and sadness I have had in my young life but they all said....I can do this and they have.  I know it wasn't easy and there are still demons to fight but they will survive in this difficult world.  Their families will survive because of them as they are talented and strong wives and mothers.   There were many phone calls/texts/emails through the years from my granddaughters;  some were to share good news, some were asking for help with a problem and others were just looking for someone who would listen.   It made me happy to be a part of their day. 

Going through you life, what are some of the struggles you had and what has changed or what have you learned from those struggles as youve gotten older?

The first real struggle was when I became pregnant with my first daughter and even though my husband and I were married in Mexico, my Mom said all she would do for me was get a doctor if I needed one.  She wanted nothing to do with my family at that point in time.  Of course that changed as my family grew and we proved to her we were going to succeed.   My mom had so much pride that it took away from many of the loving things she did.   I don't  think about it anymore as I have realized her family was growing in Ozona and she heard the Oil Field Trash also and wanted to prove to the "ranch people" her family was a good as they were.  She would have liked for me to be married in the church there in Ozona with all the showers, gifts, etc. that came with getting married in a small town.  The next struggle was when my husband died of alcohol poisoning while on a business trip to Chicago;  he was only 45 years old.  I was very mad at him because I loved him and I loved our family.  With him gone, I had no idea how I would support myself and my life was in shambles.   I I was left with having to tell all my family and friends that my husband was an alcoholic.  It was embarrassing having to show the death certificate to all the necessary people who knew me but had no idea we had that problem in our family.  Of course as the years went by, the shame became of non importance and I shared my story with others and found out many families have this problem and need the support of others to get through I did

What Empowered Message can you give to women?

Believe in yourself ! Step out and up when people try to put you down..  When you walk into a room, present yourself as the person you are; smile, look around the room and make eye contact with all who are looking your way.

What did you imagine yourself doing when you were 21 yrs? How about now? Or in 10 years?

When I was 21, I saw myself married with children and living in a 3 bedroom brick house.  10 years from now, I hope my husband is with me and we are enjoying the family we are both so proud of.  I hope the friends I now have will be there for fun trips and luncheons out. 

Right now, at this very moment, what do you want most in life?

 Health, love and happiness. 

If you could deliver a message to a woman in her 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50's, 70's what would that be?

I would encourage her to accept her body and the changes it makes.  Love that gray hair and the wrinkles of time.  Don't sweat the small stuff.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love to work in my yard.  I love to watch my bird feeders and bird bath.  I love taking care of God's creatures.  I love the extended family meals and visits with my friends and neighbors.   

Wheres your dream vacation or adventure? Where do you love to travel to or where? 

I love to travel the west and visit the national parks.  Even though I have been to most of them, I would love to go back.  The Redwoods, the Grand Canyon, Glacier National Park all draw me back to see the beauty of our country. 

Whats your mantra?

I can do this!

I love you, Grandma, Thank you for being real and sharing parts of your life in this post. I have to tell ya, yall! This woman right here is still kicking it in her 70's!!! She keeps up with her great grand children, travels with her daughters and sister on some crazy adventures...and I have to give her a shout out, last year we took her and my grandpa to Aspen, Co, and these crazy old people got on a horse, hiked Maroon Bells, and went WHITE WATER RAFTING. She likes a good glass of merlot (wonder where I get it from) and being around her family giggling and chatting.

88 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page