“I would like to be known as an intelligent woman, a courageous woman, a loving woman, a woman who teaches by being.”
In honor of International Women’s Day, my soul is bursting to write about three very special woman who helped shape me into the woman I am today.
My mama’s mom and my Gracie’s namesake. Born and raised in Western Kentucky, she was nearly 6 feet tall. She was a Girl Scout leader, softball coach, pollworker on Election days, a Rosie the Riveter during the war, the Room Mom for all three of her kid’s classrooms. She was a devoted wife for 52 years to my Grandad. She was fiercly loyal. Protective. She made THE best fried chicken. Her family and friends made up her circle and that circle was solid. Unbreakable. She had a strong opinion, a strong voice and could be brutally honest. She rarely beat around the bush and was not afraid to talk candidly about one issue or another. She could tell a dirty joke and she had a colorful vocabulary. My love for the game of Uno and Solitaire came directly from her. She wore shorts in the summer, pressed crisply, of course. She loved her Keds tennis shoes. She loved her jewerly and she loved her weekly trips to have that gorgeously long, salt and pepper hair done at the beauty shop. I was lucky enough to accompany her on a few of those trips, followed up by a trip to the Dime Store where she bought me candy cigarettes, so I could be “just” like her. She had a drawer stocked full of Double Mint gum and her fridge was always full of ginger ale and cranberry juice. She smelled like cigarettes, sweet whiskey and Tabu. She kept their house around 65 degrees and she hated to be out in the heat. She passed away in July, the summer after my sophomore year of high school, at the age of 73. Aortic aneurysm. She left behind a husband that adored her. Three kids who revered her and three grandkids who thought she was the greatest Gran the world had ever known.
My dad’s mom. Hands down the most SELFLESS woman I know. She lost her own mother when she was just two years old and was raised by her father and her aunt. Her aunt gave up her life as a nurse to live on the farm and help raise her brother’s six children. Selflessness runs in the family. My grandma has lived and breathed, every day of her life, for her family. To this day, when we visit the farm, she has soup on the stove, a ham in the oven, and cookies, brownies and candy aplenty. She would give ALL that she has to nurture or take care of her family. Her house is filled with mismatched dishes and furniture found at auctions and garage sales. She is as thrifty as they come and she considers it all, every bit of it, a blessing. She is devoted to her faith. She has the voice of an angel. She is clean sheets and warm blankets. Hot pancakes and big hugs. She smells like fresh air and Skin So Soft. She has quietly and humbly led her family and been a role model to us all. I am grateful for her strength. I am grateful for her calm. I cannot wait to wrap my arms around her in just a few weeks.
My mama. She grew up in a small town in Western Kentucky, but was never a small town girl. She graduated from Western Kentucky University and was told more than once in her life that SHE was taking the wrong classes, or in the wrong profession. Her accounting professor told her she needed to take Home Economics classes like the rest of the girls. THAT set her on fire. She was drive. She was determination. She was a trailblazer. She was so, so smart. Witty. She taught me to be a strong woman. She taught me that smart is pretty and playing dumb is definitely NOT cute. She was bold. She lived big. She always said YES to an adventure. She danced. She loved. She had the biggest smile and the best laugh. She had GIANT faith. She helped pave the way for me and many women to DREAM big and to be more than what society told them they could be. When she died from breast cancer in 2008, she was the Vice President of Marketing for a glass container company. Ya know, Ball jars…that company. She. Was. Amazing. She was my mama. I miss her and wish so much that she were still here for my own girls to learn from and look up to.
So, on this day where we celebrate WOMEN…
Here’s to the women who are our ROOTS. Who came before and who had a hand in raising and molding us. The women who paved the way and blazed the trail. Who have imparted wisdom, love and strength into the fabric of our souls.
Here’s to the women of our present. The ones we have coffee with and solve life’s problems. The one’s we live by. Work with. The ones that are ours by blood or by choice. The women who BUILD US UP, not tear us down. The women who guide us, listen to us, breathe life into our weary hearts when we are struggling to keep our heads above water.
And, here’s to the girls we are giving wings to. Let us teach them how to navigate this world, bravely, courageously and with bucket loads full of GRIT and GUTS. May WE be the women we hope for them to become.
Happy International Women’s Day!
As always, thanks for reading.