I am writing this on the eve of International Women’s Day and as we near the celebration of the birth of my seventh granddaughter and remember the birth of her great-great-grandmother, Martha. I’m reflecting on women I know, and those whom I do not, who contribute to our societies and our future. I am overcome with a sense of appreciation of all women in society. It is because of them that I am able to do what I do.
My schedule does not permit me to engage at the level that I desire. I am often absent, sitting in another airport, driving down a new road, or simply too tired to contribute at a high level to the community in which I live. There is a farm to run, books to do, travel to arrange, documents to read, and calls to return. I chose this life and will do the best I can — every day — but I am only a small part of the greater whole. And the greater whole is composed of the support of women around me.
My “not-so-secret” secret sister Sonja is the one who calls to check in, buys flowers to brighten my day, bakes for me, and ensures that we always have the best deals from her shopping in our fridge. She listens with a caring ear and always attacks life with joy and energy. On those rare occasions that we can sit in her brightly lit home, I relax knowing I am in a safe place.
My long-suffering mom has made a noble attempt at domesticating me and in that quest has bought every gadget ever made for the kitchen. Sadly for her, I would rather sort cattle. My kitchen does not know me.
Despite this inability to bake (which will be a lifelong affliction) she has taught me well and I know the value of preparation and keep a neat home, understand reuse and recycle, and am trained to select lovely fabric. In my younger years, she cared for my children and I have never heard her say that I could not do what I set out to achieve.
My neighbours have helped me with calving and feeding, flooded basements, downed power lines, and all the trials of the farm. The ladies surprise me — you guessed it — with baking and other goodies. It seems that regardless of where we have lived, we often come home to bread, cakes, loaves and cookies. I am not a thin girl and these acts of kindness ensure I stay that way!
The generosity and unselfish giving of my friends is overwhelming. When they are not caring for my physical needs or rescuing me from some current disaster (including letting me use their new chainsaw), they are listening with openness and reply with candour and truth. My friends are a great strength and I am humbled to be associated with such resourceful and dedicated women.
I am also surrounded by women who I don’t know well, but whom I wish to honour in this column.
They are the nurses and doctors at our local hospital and the support staff at our efficient clinic. They are the ladies who take care of the church and the community hall, ensuring that families have a place of worship and play. I always appreciate the women who do the cooking for large crowds and co-ordinate community events, clubs, and associations. This is a lot of work! They are just as busy, or more so, as I. They have children, farm work, careers and other obligations, and yet still have the time and energy to keep church and community events alive and enjoyable.
Volunteers amaze me because they give so much of themselves. Although I love to go to the seniors’ home and visit (there are indeed many amazing men and women there) I don’t do this enough. I am grateful for those who do this on a regular schedule as their presence brings an appreciated light into the lives of those who need care or visitation, guidance or help, culture or outings. I congratulate women like my daughter who with an all-female volunteer team raised and then built a quarter-million-dollar playground for their school and the surrounding community, ensuring all ages and abilities had access to play. We would not be the communities of caring, loving people that we are without all these volunteers.
Statistically, we know women own the majority of small and medium-size businesses and are huge contributors to economic stability in Canada. They are also CEOs and corporate owners, photographers, artists, scientists, ranchers, farmers, accountants, homemakers, lawyers, and much more. They are wives, daughters, sisters and grandmothers. With such a diversity of interest and talents, our world is culturally and intellectually a better place. It is said that we are all makers of history and I believe we are all symbols of hope. I know as I watch the women around me I am inspired and grateful.
To all women who have gone ahead and paved the way to a better future; to women who are making our lives and communities great; and to those women of the future who will add to the stability, colour and culture, economy and prosperity of our country, I salute you. Thank you for making our world a better place.