As I look back on my life I can see the influence of several strong women. My mother was a rock. She married the love of her life at the age of 18 and two years later I was born. We were close enough in years to almost be sisters. In a way, we grew up together.
She was a beautiful woman. She probably didn’t weigh more than 120 pounds. She had dark brown hair, which was made possible with a bottle of hair coloring. Prematurely greying hair at 20 years old was not an option for this woman She would continue to color her hair until she was in her 80s. She grew up on a farm in a family of eight children. She was used to working hard, but she also played hard. She loved to climb things and wasn’t afraid of heights, but snakes would send her reeling. Four of her siblings were girls and no boys came along until they were all born – not exactly farm hand material, but they pitched in wherever they could, while maintaining their femininity.
She endured the loss of five siblings at an early adult age. She watched her father suffer through a massive stroke and her mother (also a giant of strength) cared for him until his death. She wasn’t unfamiliar with sadness, but she had a beautiful smile and positive attitude which carried her through most of it.
She taught me about perseverance, patience and prayer. She wasn’t overly religious, but I knew that God was important to her and her decision making. She taught me how to pray – made sure I went to church and Sunday school – worked outside the home so I could get a Christian education.
She went through the usual trials of marriage. She and my dad spent more than 40 years together before he passed away. Each of those years held challenge upon challenge. There was always a shortage of money. There were times of infidelity, arguments and illness along the way. Still she was a woman of strength through all of it.
When I think about strong women, she’s the first to come into my mind, but I believe she came from a long line of very strong women. That sort of thing doesn’t just happen. Who we turn out to be is often generational and most of the time we imitate those who first come into our lives.
I was one of the lucky ones. Not all women have model mothers. There are those who are abusive, narcissistic, overbearing, insecure, addicted. There are those who never wanted to be mothers. Even if that’s the case, some of the strongest women are built through adversity.
You can almost bet that another woman has influenced her somewhere along the line. It can be a grandmother, an aunt, a teacher or a friend. There is a uniqueness in the sisterhood of women. Our strength is reliant on each other. We learn – we grow – we thrive on the friendship of other women.
“Strength and honor are her clothing; and she will rejoice in time to come.”