Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Women in History


"How important it is for us to
recognize and celebrate
our heroes and she-roes!"
Maya Angelou

I was recently reminded that my short term memory has just about left the building. It really bothers me because, as I think I've mentioned before, I used to pride myself on being able to remember numbers, addresses, things people said that I could repeat verbatim when I was angry and trying to make a point, and things that mattered.

For instance, a few weeks ago my son was telling me about a school he went to that was riddled with gang violence. Unbeknownst to me at the time he feared for his life. (Maybe that's a little dramatic, but how am I to gauge it now?) Unbeknownst to me now is the fact that he even went to that particular school. What I remember about that tumultuous time is that my sweet, innocent son had a bit of a problem following school rules and was asked to leave after calling one of his teachers a name that does not bear repeating. His father was undoubtedly at sea and I was undoubtedly too depressed to manage a wild child. My sweet, innocent daughter readily admits she lived in a world of her own making that didn't include her family of origin! It was a not-so-good time for all of us. But hey, I should remember if I sent my son to a school where the guns outnumbered the teachers, right?

All I can do today is plead ignorance, beg forgiveness and pray gratefully that the child who tells these outlandish tales lived to tell them to the mother who can no longer remember. I'd like to think there were happier memories he could regale me with but, alas, he is still holding a grudge for the whole barrio school thing. As if I made up the rule that kids have to attend school. Go figure!
And my point is ????

Oops, I almost forgot! No kidding! I got all carried away thinking about that little stinker and forgot I was going to write about women in history. If there is a connection there I'm not sure what it is. God help me!

Ahhh, flashback! While I forget some of the more important facts of my current life - like how often my dad should take his medicine (what medicine!) or where my kids went to school - I very clearly remember things from the past that have very little bearing on my life today -like the books I read in elementary school. They were biographies of famous people, bound in orange canvas. I think these books are the basis for my interest in history; not to mention the love and enjoyment of picking up a book and losing myself in a totally different world. I read about George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Booker T. Washington. You name the person and I probably have some seed of information about their life buried in the frozen tundra of my brain!

As IWD approaches I've been thinking about the women I read about all those years ago. Women who lived regular lives until the day they stepped into history. Betsy Ross, Martha Washington, Sacajawea, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Clara Barton, Florence Nightingale. They lived years before I was even born, yet reading about them helped form my ideal of what a woman should be.

Strong, smart, as independent as the times would allow them to be, and courageous. They were everything I wanted to be. I was 11 years old. I swung between being sure I was born to do great things and being too insecure to hold my head up and my shoulders back.

In the spirit of International Woman's Day I salute the women who came before me and made the world a better place. I feel quite sure that through the years there have been double or quadruple the number of ladies who have left their mark on our planet but never had an orange book written about them. Here's to each of them.

With gratitude and pride,
Merry ME

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