I just got back from voting in the 2012 election and as I colored in my little circles for my choices for president, federal legislature, state legislature, judges, a host of constitutional amendments and more, I was thinking of you. Yesterday you cast your own ballot, hundreds of miles north of Nebraska in Minnesota, and I have never been so proud to be your granddaughter.
When you were born, women had only had the right to vote for three years. Your older sister, Harriet, was born into a world where women did not have the right to vote (and given Harriet's personality, I'm sure that did not go over too well...). This thing that I did today, I completely take for granted, that I have the right to vote and the rights of all people to vote in this country is measured in years and decades, not centuries.
You and Harriet were the first in your generation to go to college--not just the first women to go to college and graduate. I remember the story you told of being at the St. Cloud Teacher's College and the Dean of Women telling all you ladies not to wear red, because it inflames the men's passions. I find that funny now, but I'm sure she was dead serious. Then you started teaching and in 1947, you met Grandpa, who was a fellow teacher. Your courtship warmed in the cool air of fall football games, winter basketball games, to an August wedding in the next year and it was a marriage of strength and love that lasted for nearly sixty years. I still miss him, a loss that hasn't healed much over the last six years. After you married, though, you lost your job, because you couldn't be married and hold a job. Over the years, however, as times changed, you were able to teach part time, in history and English, instilling in your granddaughters a love of stories and the importance of telling those stories. There is power in stories, you taught us, power in the freedom to tell those stories. As your daughter was born and grew up, women could still be discriminated against in the work place just because they were women. They were routinely fired (or required to resign) when they married, could legally be paid less than men. I could also mention the various women's health issues you've had over the years and how what's happening now is unsettling those things that your generation and your daughter's generation thought were settled--but I won't.
|Gram, Mom, me, Mother's Day 2008|
|K3 and C., Election Day 2010|
|Gram and C., Spring 2012|