Today is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the women who came before us, the women that are sharing the planet with us and the generations to come.
I am humbled by the women who paved the way so I can enjoy the life I live today. I think of those who crossed an ocean, a prairie, a country to build a new world. Women who watched children die because it was long before immunizations, antibiotics, and surgery. Women who planted, harvested and cooked food before Sobey’s made it easy. Women who pushed to go further, to do better because they were sure there was a better way. They gave me a better way.
I think of those who were first. First to vote, be a doctor, a married teacher, an astronaut, a prime minister. Those who were ridiculed, beaten, even killed pursuing the freedom that all men enjoyed. The ones who moved us from half a person in the eyes of the law to an independent, full-bodied, abled person of rights. They gave me freedom. They gave me rights.
I think of my grandmothers. One died due to complications of childbirth, a sign of her times. We have forgotten the risks of childbirth that the women before us endured. The other loved cars and driving fast but gave up driving because she said she would. That stubbornness carried her through the death of her only child, the death of her husband, the disability and pain of arthritis. She was self-sufficient, independent and died in her own home after living into her seventies. I am glad I have her blood, her spirit. Maybe not so much her short stature, but certainly her stubbornness and fierce sense of independence.
I think of my mom. She was a survivor. Every decade gave her a reason to quit life. But she didn’t. Even when I was thirteen and made things impossible. She had seven children and when my dad passed away we were all still at home. How do you get out of bed carrying that weight, that heartbreak, that fear? Or deal with crippling arthritis, fibromyalgia, congestive heart disease, grueling surgeries replacing knuckles and knees and hips as her body wore away? She was a survivor. She made me a survivor.
I think of my sisters and sister-in-law. Being at the end of the pack, I got to watch and learn as they became the best examples of women, mothers, sisters, and daughters. I had so many soft places to land. They taught me to be strong. They taught me to forge my own path. They taught me to be proud to be a women and a mom and sister and daughter.
Now there is a new generation. A generation I am proud of. A generation that has learned from all the others that have come before them and I am proud to say they take freedom and choice for granted. I wouldn’t have it any other way. They are fearless. They are world travelers. They take chances. They get to be anyone and anything. They are stubborn and fiercely independent. They are smart and beautiful. They are loved. I have learned from them to be fearless, take chances, rule the world, if only my own.
I see the strength of women in every generation. I am proud of each and every one of them. I am grateful for all of the forged paths, lives risked, perseverance,and love.
I celebrate you all.