Today is International Women’s Day so I want to talk about women who inspired me. Because I think we’ve come a long way from where we used to be. Let me talk about three women who had huge impacts on my life: my mom, my grandmother and my “second mom.”
If she was still with us today, she’d be turning 85 this year but she’s not so we live with the memory. After graduating from college my mom started an interior design business with a friend. Not so odd today, but plenty different for her peers in the late 1940s. I keep her business card in a little frame on my wall to remind me how many more opportunities we have today. My mom pushed me throughout my life to be more than she thought she could be, because she knew women could be a true force in the world. Sometimes that pushing put us at loggerheads, but I never lost sight of her love.
Late in life, my mom had to support herself so started two businesses. The first was an insulated window shade just at the start of the solar industry. Unfortunately she was probably a bit too early and what’s left are thousands of stainless steal strips for inside curtains and a ton of memories. The second was a moving business which she kept going until the day she died. Her business was helping people who were downsizing their homes decide what was being kept and what would be moved. Especially toward the end, many of her “elderly” clients were younger than she, but they weren’t aware as her age was something that was never discussed. And, she never left home without lipstick. It just wasn’t done.
My grandmother, Marnie, was the true matriarch of the family. She was amazing. She’d be about 110 today so graduated from college in the ‘20s when it was pretty unique to go to college. She moved to Seattle where she had used her home economics degree to get a radio show giving household tips and recipes.
What I remember most about her though as a mentor was her commitment to learning. She never stopped. All our friends adored her because she always made them feel welcome. It wasn’t without effort as she’d inquire ahead of time about what someone did and then read up on their profession so she could have a conversation. The day she met Alan, who worked in the computer industry at the time, she knew more about computers than the rest of us and had an amazing conversation.
Then there was the cooking. It truly does bind a family together and ours was no different. Even at 87, Marnie canned copious amounts of jam, jelly, vegetables and frozen fruit to help sustain us through the winter. Each was diligently recorded on recipe cards we found after she died.
Both women taught me a love of life that is constant and filled with forgiveness and respect for others. They taught me to reach for the starts and never look back. Even today, the messages guide me and their strength is with me every day.
Thank you to all the moms and Marnies out there who are guiding today’s women to new heights. We’ve come a long way and have even farther to go. They sky is truly the limit. It’s up to us to reach for it. Who has inspired you?