Friday, October 25, 2013

The Women

My great uncle died last night, which isn't really what I want to talk about, but it sparked this whole stream of thoughts for me.  I wasn't terribly close to my uncle, not to say that I didn't like him or anything, just that I never saw much of him so it wasn't like there was a ton to build a relationship off of.  He was always kind and friendly, I liked him as an individual.  The thing is, when I heard he died I started thinking about his wife.  I see her more often.  She's always at bridal showers, weddings, baby showers.  When I think about it, a lot of my extended family life has been about gathering women together, and never seeing a lot of the men.  We join together to celebrate marriages and births, and eventually to help each other when death visits.

I've got a lot of strong women in my family.  My maternal grandmother took care of my grandfather when he had cancer, and when he died, leaving her with two teenagers to care for, she took care of them.  She worked multiple jobs sometimes, and she spent a lot of her life taking care of other people.  She never remarried.  One of my great aunts married my great uncle, who stayed on after his parents died to run the family farm.  She was a farmer's wife in the days when there were no factory farms.  It was all you, and maybe a few tractors, and a lot of hard work.  My paternal grandmother raised just about everyone.  She had five children, and when they had children she half raised those as well.  She was tough as nails, she went through breast cancer and a mastectomy before I was even born, but she never talked about it.

When I think back on it, when things have gotten tough in life, it's always been the women who were there to lend a hand.  When my maternal grandmother passed away, my dad's sisters showed up and took over.  They didn't have to, they weren't related to her, but they were there, in the kitchen helping feed everyone, making sure no one had to worry about who was going to buy paper plates, or if we had enough cups.  They came in, and they managed things where the rest of us could not.  Any time someone has needed a place to stay, the women of my family find a way to provide it.  Even now, when I'm short on volunteers for football games on Saturdays, I put out a notice to our theater kids who should be the ones to step up and help, and it's my aunt who answered, offering her time and support if we should need it.

It makes me wonder why we, as a gender, don't get as much credit as we should.  We have babies, we raise future generations, we reach out in support of those who need it, even if they don't know they need it yet.  We as a gender are strong, most of the time putting up with far more than our share of crap from the universe, and yet we don't get seen as strong.  We are seen as weak and in need of protection, or somehow less worthy than our male counterparts.  That's not who we are.  We are so much more than the sum of our parts, and sometimes I wonder what it will take for the world to see and respect that.  I wonder if people even notice.

1 comment:

kaceyk said...

It seems to be cultural too. For example in African American households the grandmother is treated with utmost respect and is the clear head of the house in some cases. I hear "strong black woman" thrown around a lot, but not so much for strong white women. So could be cultural, but I agree, in general women don't get acknowledged for all they bring to the table.