Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Celebrating strong women

I’ve been remiss. March is Women’s History Month, and there are so many amazing women. Inspiring. So many to remember and celebrate, worthy of teaching our daughters about their accomplishments.

Celebration - and recognition - begins at home. My mom had seven kids, me the youngest. These days, an unimaginable feat (the cost alone is staggering) but when I was growing up, not a huge deal. Other families in our town outnumbered ours by at least twice as many kids.

Mom was a pioneer in her own right, a frustrated artist too dedicated to her family to put herself first. In her youth, she drew some wonderful illustrations, but never did anything with them. Decades before composting was a popular “green” activity, she practiced it. I can still recall the vivid colors in her flower garden.

I didn’t learn until the day of her funeral that she was also a writer. My dad often wrote – sometimes town history, sometimes little essays, but most often for his duties as a deacon in our church. But I had no idea my Mom won an honorable mention for a story she’d submitted to a national contest.

Her love of the piano was unfailing. She took on sheet music like Malagueña, a complicated piece. When she played, it didn’t sound like this. But she played it because she loved it. And she inspired me to teach myself piano. I wish I’d kept at it.

I wish, too, that she’d taken more time for herself. Channeled her creativity into the things she loved. Instead, she sewed clothes for us. And for herself, when she wasn’t filling a bag at the second-hand store. She was a whiz at stretching a buck. And she put together fantastic outfits. Her shoe collection rivaled that of Imelda Marcos’.

She may have even made the PBS list of people who define cool. Some of her outfits were downright bohemian for the times.

But she was not one who sought fame. She was a wife and mother, first and foremost. Not a saint, but none of us are.

So many women are deserving of recognition and accolades for all they do, and most do it as a matter of course.

Kudos to you, Mom, for all of your achievements. You were one of the strongest females I knew. My earliest inspiration for my fictional heroines, determined, fierce and a force to reckon with.

“an originality of artistic vision as established through a signature style, which is to say their artistic vision cannot be separate from their personality. Second, that in a given historical moment, they were perceived as a cultural rebel. Third, that they have high profile recognition. Fourth, that they have a recognized cultural legacy.”
Something tells me you didn’t look hard enough to balance out that list. Thank goodness Georgia O’Keefe made the list. Patti Smith and Bonnie Raitt? Excellent. Joan Didion and Lauren Bacall. Wonderful.

But where’s Frida Kahlo?
Helen Mirren?
Katharine Hepburn?
Tina Fey?
Maya Angelou?
Diane Arbus?
Gloria Steinem?

You done our gender wrong. All you had to do was thumb through a copy of Ladies First. Easily enough women to make a separate top 100 list.

If you’re unfamiliar with the book, I highly recommend it. Full of amazing tales of female pioneers and groundbreakers from every walk of life.

Happy Women’s History Month. I hope you celebrate the women who’ve made an impact in your life.


Maria Zannini said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mom. She is indeed inspiring. I wish I could've met her.

Cate Masters said...

She was a powerhouse, Maria, lol. I'm sure she didn't think of herself that way, like so many women who accomplish so much and just consider it as doing what needs to be done.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

You look so much like your mother. We also had 7 children in our family and our parents always put us first. I think people like your mother are the real heroes and heroines of our times.

Cate Masters said...

So true, Susan. Humble heroes and heroines, at that.

DMS said...

Happy Women's History Month!

This is such a beautiful tribute to your mom. She sounds amazing! She sure was busy with 7 kids. It sounds like she was talented in many areas. I am so glad you had her to look up to and model strong women after. :)

Cate Masters said...

Thanks for reading, Jess! She's proof positive that there are wonder women everywhere.

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