Tag Archives: Hope Rising

Being an orphan

tumblr_m0kvlehwjS1r09zijo1_500I was thinking about International Women’s Day today and about the strong women I’ve had in my life and how damnably awful it is that so many of left life so soon.
There’s my mum, a ferocious lawyer woman with a witty twist of the tongue and the ability to argue paint off a wall. I used to schedule arguments with her when I’d come home just to get them over with. She’d best me and we could be friends til the next time. It was like a momma bear cuffing her cubs to remind them she was still the boss.
She passed away 21 years ago from cancer, just about. She was only 60. I’ve been a motherless child for so long.
Then there was my mother-in-law. She was a survivor, the type of woman who could take a bit of fluff, some salt and a twig and make a house and a full dinner out of it. She cared and laughed in equal measure. I loved that there was no task she wouldn’t take on, from biking to volunteer to help the old folks at a local pool (in her 70’s) to concreting patches on the garage floor. She just up and did things. She passed away a few years ago with ALS, leaving a huge hole in my heart.
Then there’s my Aunt Mary. Mary was a nun for a while, bringing spirit and fun to even those cloistered halls. She could laugh with her whole body and with the joy in life shining through every chuckle. She left the convent and worked extensively with death and dying issues until she eventually found love and then died, too soon. I never spent enough time with her, I know. She was strong and vibrant and alive and full of hope.

I was so fortunate – I had many aunts and other women in my life that were strong examples of femininity.
They were all completely different. Yet each offered a different vision of what a woman could be.

International Women's Day rally, Melbourne1_11410104_tcm11-17964

Now they are all gone.


il_fullxfull.393422852_n9twSometimes, I need an aunt. Or a mother. Or a mother-in-law. Someone like the Dowager. Someone who knows where the iron bar rests under human behaviour and can line my toes up with it and set me to fly from there.

Today, it’s time to take a breath and honour all those women we know – aunts, mothers, friends, cousins, sisters – and look at what we can do, what we have accomplished.
Then we have to shake our heads and say, no, it’s not enough. We need to grab the reins from those women who led us and step forward, make things better for those who can’t. Use that sharp tongue, that persistence, that hope, that strength to change the world.
We could.

If we ever tried.
Yes, we could.
Maybe we should start with the Stephen Lewis Foundation. I love that guy. He, amazingly, fights for women’s rights.  Endlessly.
Listen to this and be moved…http://music.cbc.ca/#/concerts/Hope-Rising-2012-2012-11-07

I want to marry Stephen Lewis…

Stephen-Lewis-FlickrNever mind that he’s already married, I think, or that I am perfectly happy with my current partner. I just adore the man, and wish all men would be more like him.

Why? Because he loves women.

Not in any sordid way, I mean. I mean he is fighting just as hard as he physically, mentally, and emotionally can to get people to start thinking of AIDS-HIV as a disease of women. Many many many many women, in Africa, in poverty, in partner situations where things may be violent or forced and the options for avoiding AIDS are few.

And for the children they leave behind when they die. The men are long gone, usually, off spreading AIDS to others, searching for the cure through having sex with virgins, or something, I don’t know. I know a lot of grandmothers are raising children, and a lot of orphans are raising themselves.

Lewis is a driven man. He’s probably a bit of a workaholic. But I think he could manage to make me forget about his absences by just talking to me. His speeches never fail to move me to tears or fighting fury.

He was recently at a fundraiser for women in Africa –“Hope Rising!”. Please check it out, listen to the fabulous music, the pleas from African women and from my dream husband.

From the description of the event: Hope Rising!, a benefit concert for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, was an inspiring evening dedicated to the role of women who are turning the tide of AIDS in Africa. Women are at the epicentre of the AIDS pandemic in Africa. They are most affected, and infected, and also are at the heart of the community response.

And of the Foundation: The Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) works with community-level organizations which are turning the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa by providing care and support to women, orphaned children, grandmothers and people living with HIV and AIDS. Since 2003, we have funded over 700 initiatives, partnering with 300 community-based organizations in the 15 African countries hardest hit by the pandemic.

These grassroots groups are the lifeline for their communities: they provide counselling and education about HIV prevention, care and treatment; distribute food, medication and other necessities; reach the sick and vulnerable through home-based health care; help orphans and vulnerable children access education and work through their grief; and support grandmothers caring for their orphaned grandchildren.

And, once you’ve listened to the music and read about the cause, maybe make a donation to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Think of it as our wedding present.