Today’s post is a shout out to 2 strong women that laid the foundation of provision that gave me the oppportunities I’ve had in this life.
First, I was largely raised by a single Mom. Not a popular vocation in the early 1970’s and particularly not in conservative church circles. My Mom undoubtedly endured some scorn, judgment and condemnation at the hands of those who were ignorant of their own shortcomings. We love to judge others, it’s a human sickness and poisonous to our souls. My Mom made some choices in those early days that I’m sure were not easy, but they provided a foundation for me that I could build off of. My earliest memories are of her working all day and going to school at night so that she could acquire better work, better herself and better the opportunties for my siblings and I. We lived with my grandparents in the Phladelphia duplex where I learned about life. My earliest Christmas memories are in that little duplex and only have some 8mm movies to document that time. I remember what a big deal it was when we moved from my grandparent’s duplex to the mobile home in Levitown when my Mom acquired it. She was making a go of it on her own with 3 kids in tow. She commuted by train to work in downtown Philly and arranged different childcare options for us while piecing together I imagine a small income. I don’t remember ever being without, though I’m sure that involved some tough living and budgeting on her behalf. Though the woman can not cook (this is not debateable 😉 ) we had food in the house. On birthdays and Christmas, we had a budget to work off of to make our selections out of the Sears and J.C. Penney’s mail order catalogs. I used to gaze at the Star Wars figures in those catalogs like it was made of gold, circling my strategic choices. As well, she arranged for me to start at an early age what would become a love in my life . . . baseball. It was one of the first things I did that I felt really good at, something that would be a personal confidence builder for me as I developed through adolescence. She somehow accomplished for me a normalizing of growing up with a single parent at a time when it wasn’t popular, it couldn’t have been easy. She’s a tough broad. She displayed a work ethic and a sacrifice to do the right thing to provide for others that has served me well as I seek to be a provider in my own home.
Secondly, with Mom working and going to school, I spent most of my time with my Grandmother whom we just buried a little over a year ago. I had a special connection with my Grandmother, she was and still is my hero/heroine. She was a mix of tough love and nurture. Let me start with the tough part . . .Virginia Povey was a baaaaad woman! I don’t mean that in a behavior way, she was my Irish grandmother to whom regardless of my stature in life, even in her dying breaths I’m quite certain she could whoop me silly and then non-chalantly go back to her coffee. One does not cross Virginia Povey, the woman was as tough as they come. I remember talking to the nurses and doctors in hospice who couldn’t understand how she just kept laboring on without any of her faculties and I said: “Have you ever met a super human? Virginia Povey will pass on at the point she damn well pleases and not a moment before or after. You can throw your medical books away with this one.” I marveled at the fire in that woman, completely inspiring to me.
Her and my grandfather got married on Dec. 25 during WWII when he was home on leave for a couple days from the Navy in wartime. She told me that her Father would only let them wed if she would stay married to him if and when he came home with no arms or legs. She agreed. That generation exhibits a kind of stubborn committment that our culture is DYING for and if we don’t find it again, this nation will only be great in its past, not its future. I remember being carted around with her as she ran 4 businesses at hospitals, ran the Women’s auxillary, taught Sunday School for over 60 years, sang in the choir and raise her 3 grandchildren. I watched as people who worked for her treated her, they kind of feared her and deeply respected her. This woman got things done. When something needed done, put Virginia on it, she’s a workhorse. She took on responsibility and was not afraid to lead even in a culture dominated by men. At the same time, she was reverent and respectful of my grandfather’s leadership role in the home and they had a kind of storybook marriage. They respected, admired and loved one another deeply, this is the marriage that I have modeled my own after. She taught me to fight back, if I was ever being bullied, to hit them back. To stand up for myself because the world is a tough place. This is not the kind of parenting skills found in today’s psychology textbooks, but man has it helped me over the years. Our thousands of car conversations, summers spent at her home, fall/winter/spring breaks at her home in Florida, numerous trips to Disney world ‘Povey-style’ were the formative times of my life. To be honest, I don’t know if she ever slept. We’d wake at 4:30 a.m. to make the trek to Disney world from her Sarasota home and she’d already be up, dressed and a full breakfast was on the table. And she wore heels with skirts . . . everyday and anywhere, she was old school. She was as strong a woman as they come, so thankful for the strength she provided me when I was weak.
I’ve largely been unimpressed with male leaders throughout my life. I could count on one hand the ones who have earned my deepest respect. Perhaps its the underdog obstacles that women face and have to overcome that earns my respect. Undoubtedly it’s because of being raised by the 2 women mentioned above. I am not silent about the fact that the male hierarchical structure of Church is not a Scriptural mandate but rather cultural. The first sermon of the church was not Peter after Pentecost, it was Mary running home from the tomb on the first Easter Sunday proclaiming “He is Risen” while the supposedly strong men (apostles) were still asleep and cowering in fear in the upper room. If you want something done really important, you might want to send in a strong woman.
I won’t lie, I have a ‘thing’ for strong women, so much so that I most assuredly married one. I look forward to my blog on that one. As well, I see the genetics of strength of my Mom and Grandmother in my 2 daughters. I could not be more proud of the strong women they are becoming. Watch out world, the Marshall girls are coming to get some stuff done, I wouldn’t cross them if I were you.