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Today I'm featuring Susan Roberts' Honorable Mention column from this year's Write a DearReader Contest. Susan shares her family tree with branches held high, and along the way she discovers a common thread. Thanks so much Susan for entering this year's contest...
My mother died this summer at 92 years old. She went into a nursing home at 88 after my dad died. Even though her body was showing the signs of age, she still had a sharp mind. I spent a lot of time with her the last few years, and we talked a lot about the past and I heard many stories of her growing up years. Now that I am the oldest person in my branch of the family, I have done a lot of thinking about the women that preceded me. I consider myself a feminist and after hearing more about my grandparents, I realize that I am from a long line of feminists.
My paternal grandmother went to county normal school to become a teacher when she was 17. Her first year of teaching was in a small town where she roomed with a local family. She loved teaching and planned to continue teaching as long as possible, but life has a way of making changes, and she fell in love with the oldest son in the family that she was boarding with, and was pregnant by the end of the school year. They went on to have eight children, but once they had all started school my grandmother went back to teaching.
My maternal grandmother spent her first years of marriage living with her husband's parents, and since my grandfather was an only child, she was not appreciated by her new in-laws. Once they moved into their own house, she realized that she needed something more to occupy her time, so she converted a garage into a home laundry, and did laundry for local motels and churches until she was 95.
Next generation is my mom. She left her home in a small town in upper Michigan at 17 to move to Detroit to go to nurse's training. Her dad was totally opposed to her going to college, because he felt like college was wasted on women. She got her nurse's license in 1945 and kept her license active until she was 90. She didn't work full time when we were younger, but did special duty nursing and then when we were all older, she went to work full time. During the 50s when I was growing up, she was the only mom in the neighborhood who was anything other than a housewife. She and my dad had six kids--three boys and three girls. My mom wasn't just a nurse by profession, she was a nurse because she loved nursing and taking care of people. She took her last job when she was 80 and went to work at hospice for several years.
In my generation, my sisters and I all have advanced degrees. I worked in a male dominated job in a chemical plant, and ended up supervising the five males who made my life difficult. Middle sister has a PhD in health; she has been a nurse, nursing supervisor and the CEO of two hospitals. Now that she is semi-retired, she still teaches three nursing classes online. Youngest sister is also a nurse, and she works in a nursing home.
Our youngest generation has six kids--three boys and three girls. Granddaughter #1 has a master's degree in engineering, and is the only female in her area of a major aerospace company. Granddaughter #2 has an MBA and is a planner at a major motorcycle company. Granddaughter #3 is still in college, but I have no doubt that she will end up being a success at whatever she does.
It thrills me to know that I am part of a long line of women who worked to achieve their dreams, who went to college and didn't follow the norms of their day to be housewives. I am proud to be part of the heritage of this family.
Write a DearReader Contest 2017
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.
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