Women's History Month

We look for the achievers, people who have done great things in history when the months to recognize certain groups come around. This is Women's History Month and I would like to recognize my mother. She was a child of the 50's with all the idealism of that era in a marriage that today would not have lasted 2 years, but it held her hostage for over 20. She was single at a time when magazines proclaimed it was more likely for a person to be killed by a terrorist than a woman of her age to remarry so she chose again and badly. She was an artist with precious little time to paint or money for lessons, but she longed to create so I inherited a few of her originals that I've framed. She was an Aquarian and didn't understand racism or prejudice or even classism. She read nutrition books and challenged us to take our vitamins and eat dinner together at the table by 3:00 p.m. which was a meat with a yellow and a green vegetable when things were good and tuna casserole when home life was upside down. I'll never eat tuna casserole again. There were no sweets. Life was "Go outside and get some exercise, have you practiced your piano, finish your homework, clean your room, beds have hospital corners, and a toothbrush gets the edges clean." When I was an adult, we left our fundamentalist church and attended one that was vastly more progressive. And when she wasn't terrified of being alone, sick & broke in her old age, she sparkled. She told frightening urban myths while putting my hair up in pins as a child. She would sit for hours and show me how to color within the lines and if I messed it up, how to use multiple colors to shade around the edges and make it shadowed. Scary movies were her favorite so by 8 I had already seen Psycho, Baby Jane, The Living Dead, To Kill a Mockingbird (scary for a child), Two Women (yep that was a life changer) and every Twilight Zone episode. She successfully terrorized my children when they went to visit by staying up until the wee hours watching old black & white horror films. She also let them eat all the things forbidden to me, which were forbidden to them at home and which they inevitably threw up. Every. Time. They visited her. She taught me nursery rhymes and songs of the South & the Depression and when at church to sing alto because everyone wants to sing soprano and it sounds better with harmony so learn the low part. We followed the bouncing ball every week as we sang along with Mitch. She also taught me to be the first to introduce myself if there was a new child at school, which there rarely was, but in high school we moved and I was the uncomfortable new person. By mid-year, I had managed a few friends and a new girl showed up after Christmas break. I took her around to the people I knew and she & I became best friends, which carried me through a rough time. My mother could grow any plant inside and kept a pothos in the shower, with no dirt and no sun and it grew for years like some miracle that only needed soapy water. She taught me to take care of wild birds and threatened to call the police when she discovered her favorite mockingbird only had one leg after the neighbor boys received pellet guns one spring. She trained as a beautician and opened a shop at home so she could do elderly clients at a slower pace. As they began to die off, she did their hair for the last time and said for her it was an act of love and she knew how they liked it. She died at 58 years old from an aneurysm and I've missed her every day since. History is made of women like my mother who never receive medals or awards or recognition, but leave an impact on the people around them that ripples through generation after generation. Women's History Month is for recognizing that each of us is great and all of us are achievers in our way.

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