Today is International Women’s Day.
And before you ask, yes, there is an International Men’s Day, it’s November 19th. So there.
I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by fantastically strong women my entire life. Women who have been through so much it’s actually indescribable. First, of course, is my mother. I haven’t really gone into detail about her life and what made her an incredibly strong person previously because, well, it would have been an invasion into her privacy. I feel guilty doing so now, even though she’s gone.
My mother faced hardship from the minute she was born. She was continually given up into foster care by my grandmother off and on for years, for reasons I was never really clear on besides the fact that it was easier for my grandmother that way. She was a resident of reform schools and mental hospitals in her very young youth, something they routinely did with kids back in the day. She went through sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse by numerous people, including my own father. She wasn’t perfect; she had some emotional issues until the day she died. But despite all of that she raised four children by herself. Four children who are now all successful adults (if I do say so myself), who are that way because she was the one who raised us. We are very lucky to have had her, even when she drove us crazy. We miss her dearly every day.
My grandmother, despite her flaws, worked hard and followed her own will at a time when doing so was looked down upon. That meant being the only girl in her family to not marry another Italian. No, grandma went on to marry and divorce an irish man, and then followed that up with a marriage to another irish man. She followed her heart into forbidden love in between, but didn’t let that love break her down when it wasn’t meant to be.
There are my sisters, Angel and Susan, Joy and Nancy, each with their own battle scars and some who never made it out of the fight (we miss you, Joy). But each of them have given the world the amazing gift of their children, and the world is a better place because they are in it. Growing up with sisters is a special thing (just ask my brother, Peter), especially as the youngest. There’s so much you learn about life from your sisters, everything from how to deal with your first period, to how to dress for your first high school dance. My sisters were my first friends, even when we hated each other.
And then there are my friends. I don’t make friends easily. I’m an introvert who takes a while to warm up to people. But I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by such phenomenal women, particularly in my youth. Some, like Amanda, Kate, and Darla helped me grow into the woman that I am today and have given me the best memories a girl could ask for. Some, like Jasmine, Sara, Alice, Jennifer and others know me as the woman I am today and are helping me become the woman I will be tomorrow.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without these amazing women. I cannot find the proper words to thank you for all that you have given me.
Happy International Women’s Day to you all.