I wanted to dedicate International Women's Day to the tough broads who raised me including my mother Vera who raised three kids on her own after my Dad killed himself in his car eighteen months after my birth.
I also want to give a shout out to my Granny Ina who lost her first husband in the Great War, and had to raise her mentally disabled son Vern on her own before finding my Grandpa and having two more kids.
Widows, I come from a family of widows, don't you see, Steel Magnolias who stared down adversity and sacrificed for their families. As I faced my own uncertainty 25 years ago after being left with my own three kids, I took my inspiration from the best. I learned that no matter how bleak things look, there is always room for fun, friends and family.
And a career if you have time to do it.
I learned too late the hard lesson that a woman can only count on herself. The only advice I have given to my capable daughter, Marissa, is be the man you want to marry. She took that advice, and reached for the stars. (She's also married to a great guy but she is completely capable of flying solo, which I hope she never does.)
I also want to dedicate this day to my cousin Ashley Simpson, who went missing nearly a year ago in Salmon Arm. Ashley, too, came from a family of tough, scary broads. She wasn't afraid to stand up for herself while cooking in logging camps, on ships and other rough places. In whatever sphere she currently occupies, Ashley continues to have the heart of a lion and I know what every misadventure took her away from her family, she got in a good shot and left her mark.
Maybe a clue.
I know this in my heart, and hope she finds some peace in knowing that she is loved.
Don't worry, Ash. Dad, and maybe cousin Scott, are coming for you. They will find you this spring. And you will be remembered.
Count on it.
Finally, I want to applaud my daughter, Marissa, who continues to fight the good fight in the corporate world while juggling a toddler, and a cat.
She is an amazing mother, wife and friend. I saw her Facebook posting today, and I don't think she'd mind me sharing it. I have nothing to teach her.
Because I have seen first hand that this world we live in does not fully respect the role you play. Giver of life, nurturer of souls, powerhouse.
Because your ...pay is not equal. Because there are more men named John running big companies than there are women. Because you are berated for your choices, no matter your motivation. Because people don’t understand that you can be modest or not, that you can be married or not, that you can have babies or not, that you can stay home or not, be pro-choice or not, be religious or not, be conservative or not, and that does not AND SHOULD NOT affect your value to this world. Because people call you a bitch, a whore, a slut. Because people tell little girls they are pretty before they tell them they are smart. Because doing something “like a girl” means you are not doing it well. Because calling a man feminine means that he is less than other men. Because our bodies are governed by states and countries, because men can sign agreements about our reproductive rights without a single woman in the room.
Because you are raped, because people question what you were wearing or how much you had to drink before they deem that your allegation is true. Because they look at his accomplishments and don’t want to jeopardize his success at the hands of your hurt. Because you are told your whole life that a man is the measure of your happiness. Because if he hurts you, he loves you.
Because after you gifted a world with a child, and you are expected to do it all with a smile, yet you suffer in silence because postpartum depression is wildly misunderstood and the world makes you feel shame because of this.
Because you’re told you’re too fat, too skinny, you wear too much makeup, your clothes don’t fit you right, and you are rated on every facet of your appearance. Because you cry when you look in the mirror. Because you stop eating so you can look how everybody tells you you’re supposed to look. Because you analyze every piece of food that goes into your body, wondering what its effect will be on your measurements.
Because until we collectively show the world that we support each other and are united, our progress is stalled. Because we need to believe in and support one another, recognize our achievements, recognize our worth, and push each other forward.
Because I am, and I have a daughter. My future is vested in women. Our future is vested in women.
Because your fight is my fight.