Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Today is Her Birthday

I was taught, at a very early age, that women could be a part of the workforce.

That may sound idiotic now. Of course, women are part of the workforce!

But in the 1950's June Cleaver lived. Women stayed at home and created a living space for their husbands and children. They wore dresses all day and were always presentable when the MAN came home.

But my mother was a Registered Nurse. An acceptable female occupation.

She did not have a college degree but she went to St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco for three years to learn her skills. The hard way.

They did direct patient care. They learned to take orders from doctors and care for the person in that hospital bed. They did bed pans, and IV's and sponge baths. They personally cared for each and every patient.

She would work continuous shifts with no sleep and little food. She lost weight. She was exhausted.

But she earned her cap.

And for all of my life she was a nurse.

And she taught me that it was ok to work. Really ok.

Father was another matter. To him women should never work. They should be "taken care of" by their husbands. So Mom convinced him that I should go to college to be an asset to a husband as he "climbed the corporate ladder".

Nice one, Mom.

So I got to go to college. But I had also been instilled (by Father) that every female needs a male. So I got married, too.

The conflict in me was tremendous. Be June Cleaver or Florence Nightingale (ok...maybe Mary Richards....)

When I finally figured out that I was the only person that could or should support me, Mom was dying. I was to start law school in 2 months. I had received no support from Father and Mom wasn't in a position to encourage me.

While in the ICU, after her last cancer surgery, I asked her if she was scared. She nodded "yes" and I told her to give her fear to me. I sat next to her bed, holding her hand, and the last thing she said to me, without any fear in her eyes, was, "make me proud".

That was all I needed.

She gave me the best gift a young, single mom could ever ask for.

She told me it was ok to be me.

It was ok to work.

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