Tahlequah Daily Press


April 22, 2014

Padilla enjoys reconnecting with childhood

TAHLEQUAH — As a child spending time at her grandparents’ house, with all her aunts, uncles, and cousins around her, Kerrie (Bosley) Padilla spent endless hours outside playing chase, catching fireflies, or writing and acting out plays.

In 1987, after her dad got out of the Navy, the family moved here from Georgia to be closer to that family: matriarch Dorothy Monzingo, and maternal grandparents Dorothy and Dwight Allen. Her parents, DeAnna and Steve Edwards – as well as a couple of siblings and some aunts, uncles and cousins – still live here.

Eventually, Padilla graduated from Northeastern State University, and then its College of Optometry. And now, she’s an optometrist, practicing as a civilian provider for the U.S. Army for the past 10 years, the last seven at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Her small-town roots are still important to her.

“I appreciate time with my family and friends. When you grow up in a smaller town, you rely so heavily on family and friends and simplicity,” said Padilla. “You can be quite content just about anywhere, as long as you have those two elements. You don’t need grand shopping or extensive museums to pass your days. Good conversation and good coffee go a long way.”

She remembers spending long hours visiting with friends over gallons of coffee at the Iguana Cafée, while listening to live music or poetry. She likes the fact that even today, you can still familiar faces everywhere you go – local eateries, shopping, coffee shops.

“I have a few friends from high school who have remained in the area, but with so much family still in Tahlequah, my time is limited when I return for visits,” she said.

Social media has enabled her to reconnect with many friends. It has been fun watching their families grow and their many adventures, she said.

“I was able to visit a good majority of friends and familiar faces when I was home a few years ago for my 20-year high school reunion; it was nice catching up with so many people at the same time,” she said.

A favorite memory of college was a trip with one of her best girlfriends - five weeks backpacking throughout Europe and staying at youth hostels.

“It is definitely ranked as one of the most amazing things I have ever done. My only regret is not splurging a little more. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said.

Padilla met her husband, Marc, in college, and he was an enormous influence in her life.

“He believed in me long before I believed in myself. He has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders,” she said. “Of course, my mom and dad, also in the cheering section, have always supported me and guided me with pretty sound advice.”

She considers herself to have an amazing job.

“There is so much reward in helping people see better. When a person, especially a child, comes in with blurry vision, and through the power of glasses they see better, there is nothing like seeing their whole face light up and the smile that arrives without thought. It is just so rewarding,” she said.

Her decision to study optometry took a little time. It wasn’t even on her radar until she met the man she would later marry.

“I had plans to study elementary education when I met Marc, and he convinced me to look into optometry so we could later open a practice together. Though he later decided not to apply to optometry school, I continued the course, and the rest is history,” she said.

The couple have four children. Amanda came into the marriage with Marc, and they have three together: Zoë, 8; Zachary, 6; and Zealand, 4. They also have a granddaughter, Lowery, 2.

Hobbies include just about anything that involves “my sweet babies.” Friday nights are family movie or game night. Painted ceramics from visits to the local paint-your-own-pottery business adorn their home.

“And, I think I enjoy making the popular loom bracelets more than my daughter. I love the creativity,” Padilla said. “I would love to take classes in photography, cake decorating, and knitting – those are all on my wish list.”

At least once a year, she tries to make it home to visit family.

“I miss my family and I really miss the closeness of the community. I miss going to college. I understand now why so many people become career-students. There is something about going to class and learning, and the friendships that are forged in this dynamic,” she said.

She’s noticed the introduction of many chains for eateries and shopping.

“You can see it is growing, but there are still classic businesses like Iguana Cafée, Ned’s and Sam & Ella’s that are just staples for Tahlequah and just make me feel like I’m home,” she said.

Padilla is a self-described e-book hoarder.  

“When a book is free, I cannot resist. It might be a book I may never read or out of my typical interests, but I cannot resist a book that has suddenly been discounted to free. I have so many books in my e-library, I will be in trouble if space is suddenly limited,” she said.

At bedtime, Padilla and her daughter and take turns reading chapters aloud from the Ramona series, because “it’s a great way to connect and revisit my childhood.”

Kid-friendly movies she recommends are “Frozen” and “Mr. Peabody & Sherman.”

“We enjoyed both very much,” she said, “and when I have time, I enjoy foreign films, two of my all time favorites being ‘Life is Beautiful’ and ‘Children of Heaven’; they are both incredible family love stories.”

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