Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Grandmothers, Random Thoughts & (Indirectly) Why Vote

I was lucky. I had two grandmothers that were passionate about life, their rights, and beliefs. Each belonged to a very different church, but both would have been considered good, religious women. Both were vocal about current affairs; both liked to discuss politics in general. Both were adamant about voting. (Neither here nor there, both were pretty much self-educated and enjoyed learning, neither drank alcohol, both of their mothers died in 1926, both happened to be Republican.)

My paternal grandmother was older and "old", less demonstrative, quieter, more stern, and rather old fashioned about how women should act. However, she was insistant on being involved and having women (in general) involved in the community. She belonged to several civic organizations and was very active in a couple of them.

She was one of the youngest of 26 (count them!) children. Grandma didn't say too much about her younger years. She'd just say, "You don't have any idea how lucky you are." or "You sure are spoiled." From other family members, I learned of her childhood; it wasn't particularly good, happy, or otherwise.

This grandma didn't talk to us directly very much, but did take us with her to many functions. (She was of the "a child should be seen but not heard" school.) We were influenced by what we heard her say to others and by what she did with her life.

My maternal grandmother was almost 14 years younger than my other grandmother, so her outlook was different. She was a teen in the "Roaring" wicked 1920's, although she lived on a ranch a long way from civilization during part of that time. This grandma was a little more lenient, more open-minded, more demonstrative. She worked and had worked outside the home; had lived and worked for a while on an Indian reservation; had run a business; and had moved all over the country - where ever there was work for either her or her husband (Grandpa).

She was concerned with social issues such as domestic abuse, disease control, women and minority's rights, and (horrors!) birth control. (One would think that she should have been a Democrat. The difference is that she believed that individuals and churches should be responsible for taking care of these problems not the government.)

This grandma would listen to what we had to say. She would correct us or discuss with us, but we were never treated like we were silly or stupid. This grandma talked to us like we were adults. She told of her family, her experiences, about things that bothered her, what made her happy.

This grandma was one of the oldest of seven living children and had been expected to bring in money to help support the family. She grew up rather poor, but she had a fairly happy and loving childhood. Grandma taught us with her words and actions.

I was in high school, went to college, worked, got married, and had a child all in the 1970's. But, the feminism idea wasn't really new to me. I'd basically heard my female relatives "vent" (usually they were fairly quiet about it - there would be almost hidden tears and "I don't like it, but that's life. I wish I could change it, but I can't" attitude) against the inequities all my life. There are too many instances to write about here.) Although I didn't agree with the most radical aspects of Feminism, I was glad that in the 1970's somebody was finally doing something about trying to change attitudes of society and some of the laws that still forbid women certain rights.

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