“Don’t forget the ladies, John.” That was the famed message Abigail Adams gave her husband as he departed for the conference (all male) that would write our Constitution. Despite her sage advice, the “ladies” were overlooked and marginalized for the next couple of centuries.
March is Women’s History Month. Only a month? We deserve a year at least to cover what we’ve accomplished. Even Abigail didn’t dream that a woman would rise to the top level of the federal government. Not as the chief honcho (honcha?), but certainly shattering that age-old glass ceiling. We also have more women in Congress and in executive positions around the country, than ever before in America’s history. (U.S. is also US. )
On a personal level, I’m betting that most of us owe a debt to some woman who helped us become the person we are today. Even our Madam Vice-President credits her elementary school teacher. So I want to pay homage to Miss Maher. (In her day there was no such title as Ms.) She was my English teacher in Junior High School. Small in stature, she was an odd figure with one shoulder noticeably higher than the other. This led the teenage boys in the class to refer to her as “the hunchback.” I‘m certain she was aware of the jokes and crude cartoons left too visible on the desks. Yet she stood with dignity in front of those boys, reading poems she loved and wanted us to know. She inspired me to revere the Romantic poets.
But I owe Miss Maher an even greater debt. One chilly autumn day at lunchtime I was alone in the school yard. A lonely kid, I sat on a bench and scribbled some words in my notebook. I was 12 years old and this was my first attempt to write a poem.
After school that day, I shyly asked Ms. Maher if she’d like to read my poem – and ran out. The next morning, she called me to her desk to tell me, “ You have a talent for writing.” The poem was amateurish, but that affirmation was everything to a young girl in a family that didn’t dole out praise and had no time for anything as trivial as poetry. Miss Maher then added three words that have dominated my life: “Honor that talent!”
That teacher is long gone, but I wish she could know that her belief in me grew roots.
That even through the lonely struggle and inevitable rejections, I “honor” my writing by staying dedicated every day.
I hope if each of us looked back we could find at least one woman who lit a spark in us, a spark that ignited belief in our own possibilities.
(Who did that for you? Send the name to me at annehosansky.com and have her acknowledged in these blogs.)
BOOKS: COME and GO – available through BookBaby.com; Widow’s Walk –iUniverse.com; Turning Toward Tomorrow –Xlibris.com, Ten Women of Valor and Role Play- both available through CreateSpace.com and Amazon.com; also Amazon Kindle.