Though I could hardly write a better Mother’s Day tribute about my mother than I did three years ago (here), this week I’ve had strong, independent women on my mind. So that’s my topic this year.
How did my mama raise my sister and me to be strong, independent women?
It wasn’t by saying those words.
I don’t ever remember her saying, “You have to be strong.” Or “You have to be independent.”
But that’s what she was. Strong and independent.
She could do so many things.
She and Daddy helped the electrician wire our house when they built it. She and Daddy worked on our cars. She’s the one who made sure the tire air pressure was just right and that we had full fluid levels. She checked that each time my sister and I were home for a visit.
She could tend a fire, either in the fireplace or a pile of brush outside, keeping it under control and serving its purpose perfectly.
She could pack a trunk better than almost anybody. Well, except for her brother. I think they must have had trunk-packing contests when they were kids.
She managed the money for our household. She enjoyed figuring out how to maximize interest. She enjoyed knowing how taxes worked and how best to use deductions.
She could sew very well – even though she pretty much hated sewing. That was because everything had to be perfect. (She made this suit for her honeymoon to Washington, D.C. We donated it to the Effingham County Historical Society.)
And speaking of perfect, boy, she had high standards! Any job she did had to be done really well. Anything my sister or I attempted had to be done really well. Anything Daddy did had to be done really well.
She was pretty unusual for women of her time. She did all of the mowing at our house. She kept the back of the yard cleared of brush. She painted rooms and house trim and stripped and varnished old furniture and repaired lamps. She could fix all kinds of things. She understood machinery. She understood the laws of leverage – and would be happy to tell anybody how to do a job that required use of leverage. She kept a .22 rifle leaning next to the back door, loaded with mustard seed in case a stray dog came into our yard. She knew how to use it.
At the funeral home after Mama died, one of her friends said she had always admired Mama’s independence. I think that was the first time I really realized that she was independent.
You see, I just thought she was just normal. That that was how women were.
Because that’s what I saw every day of my life with her.
Now I realize she was indeed strong and independent.
And that that is what she taught my sister and me about women – just by living her life the way she did.
We didn’t grow up thinking there was anything a woman couldn’t do.
Because all of what our mama did seemed normal.
And for that, I’m grateful.
My sister and I have each lived on our own for years. I still do now. We know how to handle almost any situation. We are confident and secure in ourselves. We don’t feel less than.
We learned all of that from our mama, who crossed over more than 12 years ago.
Thank you, Mama. For all you taught us. For who you were.
For raising us to be strong, independent women.
We’re grateful for that. And for you.