I come from a long line of independent women. My Grandma Berry had my mom. My mom had me. I had two daughters, most definitely independent. Depending upon that moment in time, all of us were or are strong women.
My Grandma Cherry was also a strong woman. Her husband was an alcoholic and to hear stories, a pretty mean one when he was drinking. I think she put up with a lot. Quite a lot. More than I probably will ever know. Through it all she kept a clean house, cooked many a meal, and yet remained a very kindhearted and quietly courageous woman. And she raised two children that respected her; my dad being one of them. My Grandma Cherry believed in equality, gentleness, and affability. My Grandma Cherry stood for what she believed in.
My Grandma Berry raised her three children alone. That is, she raised them alone after her husband left her to ‘see the world.’ She took in laundry, babysat, and cleaned houses. This was during the depression in a small town in southern Missouri. And she raised three children that respected her. My Grandma Berry believed in hard work, most definitely equal pay, and impartiality. My Grandma Berry stood for what she believed in.
My mom was outspoken and stubborn, sometimes too much so. Or so I believed. I don’t recall her ever complimenting my outward appearance. Instead she would say “pretty is as pretty does.” She valued truth, sincerity, and didn’t suffer fools. She worked outside the home before any of my friends’ mothers did. She worked long hours at a stressful job. Oftentimes, she would come home irritable and annoyed at the least little thing because she was just plain tired. But as a teenager I didn’t really care. We had terrible arguments and harsh disagreements. There were times I even thought I hated her. But, I always respected her. My mom believed in truth, ability, and candidness. And most undoubtedly, my mom stood for what she believed in.
I’m not quite sure that I could measure up to those that came before me; my grandmas, my mom. I didn’t have to raise my daughters on my own nor with an abusive, alcoholic husband. I worked outside the home but for the most part really enjoyed the jobs I had. In addition, my husband is a very caring man that worked very hard and helped out a lot around the house while our daughters were small. All that notwithstanding I could still be a tyrant, a dictator, and hardcore. But I am sure of one thing, my daughters respect me. And I immensely respect them. I believe in equality, honesty, and openness as do my daughters. And we stand for what we believe in.
The Women’s March was a year ago. When my friends and I first started planning on going to the March we planned on going by car. We didn’t know what to expect nor were we certain what we would find when we got there. We weren’t sure how many others there would be, would there be only a couple of hundred or so or would there be thousands?
Not too long after we started planning, we found out that plans were underway in our community to take a bus…then two buses. On the Friday before the March as we traveled through Illinois, then Indiana, then Ohio to D.C. many more buses started appearing. Close in to D.C. as we pulled in to a rest stop to freshen up buses were stacked three deep in the parking lot. In D.C. as we disembarked from the bus we saw throngs of people not only getting off buses but getting out of cars and walking. Bands of people became crowds then as we got closer to the center of the March; the crowds became throngs, then just a sea of pink hats, signs, and people.
I felt an overpowering sense of unity. My friends and I weren’t alone. My bus full of new friends from my community weren’t alone. We were half a million strong. We gathered for the same purpose. To march against prejudice, racism, and gender based violence and abuse. To march against oppression, divisiveness, and disrespect for those that deserve our respect.
To march for something we believed in.
Later, during the days after I got home I discussed that day with my husband and my daughters. I packed away my Women’s March I.D. sign, my armband, my ‘be kind’ button, and my bus information pamphlet in a keepsake box. I added duties of calling my legislators and participating in political groups. I went back to my part-time job, my friends, and my committee work. In other words, including a few additional tasks, I went about my life.
During this last year I have thought about the March quite often. I think about the friendships I have made. The speeches I heard that day. The huge throngs of people. And then sometimes when I think about the March I can’t help but imagine my mom and my grandmas there marching with me. I know they would have been there if they could have. Because they stood for what they believed in. As my daughters and I stand for what we believe in. As over five millions people, on that day, a year ago, around the world stood for what they believed in. And we will continue to stand for what we believe in. And we will march to prove it.