Today is the 101 anniversary of International Women's Day, and with the recent step-up of attacks on women in the American political cycle, specifically over contraception and reproductive healthcare, it seems a perfect time for us to look back on the continuing political struggles of the international community on women's rights and gender equality.
In honor of today's events, I thought I would write a post thanking the women in my life who have shaped me in more ways than I can fit into a blog post.
First off, to my sister, Mandy - you have always served as an example to me that strong will and fighting for what you want and need in life is worth it. As I see you raise my niece and nephew it makes me proud that I grew up beside you.
To my Aunt Vicki - You taught me to work through tough times, and gave me hope that I could get out of our hometown and make something of myself. You were the first in our family to open your arms to David and me without wavering on your acceptance - giving me love that I worried I'd lost.
To my late Grandma Thelma - You would have been 100 last year and I still dream about you weekly. You opened my eyes to the world as a child. You taught me to read and gave me a view on history that few could tell and the will to keep fighting until the end. I miss you.
To Joanne Burton, the late mother of one of my best friends and the only woman to make this list that was not direct family - When I heard you had passed away suddenly last year, I was reminded of how much you changed me. From sending me to see musicals to late night talks (mostly the late night talks), your willingness to listen and an open mind like I still have never seen again showed me a world much larger than I had ever imagined. You educated me on the necessity of a woman's right to choose and treated me like your own when I came out. Even though we affiliated with different parties, you are still one of the most progressive women I have ever known. I wish distance had not kept me away for so many years.
To my grandma Lula Belle - long before you were Granny Belle, you were just Grandma. You are the strongest woman I have ever known. You lost a husband when your children were still in high school and stepped into the working world having never had a job other than farm work. You finished raising my mom and aunt on your own, and when your first grandkids were born, you stepped forward to help raise another generation, and have continued the tradition with your great grandchildren. You provided a second home for Mandy and me. You were the one who would always bring a bowl of fresh stove-top popped popcorn and a Dr. Pepper when you picked me up from school. You were the one that would always mix up "organism" and "orgasm" when you helped me with science vocabulary. You were the one that taught me the importance of having faith in your life - no matter it's focus. And you are the one that taught me that life never gives you more than you can handle. I wish I had half your bravery.
And finally to my mom - You are always there, no matter what I have done, haven't done, can't do, or didn't want to. You have supported every direction I have gone in my life. You started your career as a teacher's aid and worked your way up to the bookkeeper for the school district - that was hard work. You taught me the importance of work - something that I am still learning. You taught me that the human spirit can survive through the roughest times. You've held my hand and still wipe my tears. Since I left for college we have only gone 2 days without talking to each other. What used to be funny and joked about by my friends, especially your telepathic ability to call whenever I sat down for dinner no matter how varied the time, I miss it if that phone call doesn't happen. I hate to see you sad, and it has been great to see you happy again. I love you more than any other being on the earth. Come visit me.
Who are the women that have shaped your life? Leave some of your stories in the comments section.