I 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.
Now they are all gone.
Sometimes, 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.
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