Rather than patting myself on the back with a “you’ve come a long way, baby” superiority as I clicky click across the ballroom in my beautiful fuchsia high heels and black business suit, I want to ground myself with where I came from. With who I came from. I don’t look at the women who came before me as less than we are today just because they didn’t have the trappings we have. Quite the contrary, I admire them for the trails they blazed for me. So we need to step back from this notion that WE are the women who have made it.
I come from a family of strong women who made choices and built lives as building blocks for my life. Pearl is the name of the lady in this photo who adopted a boy named Zero Hudson (which is another fascinating story) who became my grandfather, and the other lady is her sister-in-law, Hattie.
Looking at this photo I reach into their eyes as much as I can, I want to know what that day was like. The day they got so dressed up to have their photo taken for a great granddaughter to look at many, many decades later. What was that moment in time?
Having just spent a week with my sisters-in-law which reinforced our bond, I wonder about the bond of Pearl and Hattie. They almost look with their shared bond and secrets at the photographer as if to leave us with a question.
I wear a ring inscribed with the date Nov. 18, 1903. It’s a ring that a woman wore more than a century ago as she went about her days and nights; her tears and fears. That the ring lives on in my days beside the wedding ring on my finger and not in a dusty jewellery box is special. It’s like a shared history we are making through the warmth of a gold band over a hundred years of being a wife and mother; of living and dying.
I think we are right to celebrate where we are today. I do so with presentations and talks about defining futures and values and dreams that I share with like-minded groups of women always with a face to the future – to where we are going.
We can’t move forward until we know our past and the foundation it gives us. And moving forward to celebrate International Women’s Day should include being proud of where we started our journey with the women in our lives past and present. They are the spirits that guide us from old photographs and rings on our fingers.