i think the challenge of our generation is the plethora of choice.
i went home this weekend. the house that i grew up in is not just any house - it’s a home. those who have come and stayed at the ‘happy hotel’ and had a good bbq with the woo’s know that it’s a special place. but in past few years - that place has seemingly changed as i’ve moved out, along with my siblings, and especially so with the passing of my grandmother last year.
we had an unusual arrangement - albeit a fortunate one. all my life, my grandmother lived with us in a in-law apartment downstairs in our basement. a child of the depression, the dust bowl in the 1930’s in saskatchewan, and one of of over 12 children, she had an incredibly tough life. circumstance found her as single mother in the 40s, raising my dad the very best that she could. i learned always to treat servers in restaurants incredibly well because you never know the mouths their trying to feed at home. those tips helped to put dad through university and sent him on a path that would take him to meet his future wife - momma woo. she remained as a server and hostess until she retired and never came close to setting foot into a office, much like modern women do everyday.
after a long battle with dementia she was taken by congenital heart failure. she left us many things, with memories being the most important. for a while it really tough for all of us to go downstairs and see that hard-wood table and the many crafts of from her artistic hands. gradually as we’ve started to go through things, we’re in disbelief over how much that she kept and the things that mattered to her - boxes of photographs, stashes of money and more glass jars than we’re willing to admit. the children of the great depression lived in such severe poverty that they learned to save so ferociously that nothing went to waste. they took any possible job that they could and nothing for granted along the way.
my grandmother on my mother’s side suffered very much the same fate. british and brilliant, she was the daughter of one of the first female rhodes scholars at oxford and was unmatched at logic games and puzzles. the war broke out and like so many others, she was swept into helping - tasked with job to talk the pilots over the english channel, keeping them awake over long bombing raids. she lived on turnip for 6 months. she met my grandfather - a canadian soldier, and before she knew it, was living in a small town in ontario, working at the post office. a stroke her took suddenly when my mother was in her teens, but she too often felt unchallenged and helpless, filled with a silent ambition to always want more for herself.
we’re now living an era where we can go body pump on wednesday nights. wear shorts. challenge men in leadership positions and be seen as equals. even hold some of the most powerful jobs in corporations and in government (you go, hilary.) we can fire and hire, education is accessible and wages are becoming ever more fair. but somehow along the way, we’ve gotten caught up in a conversation that pollutes our reality ever day and leaves us i think sometimes taking things for granted.
everyone has days where they don’t want to go to work. but after being at home, i was reminded of a very important lesson that’s symptomatic of everyone that’s chasing the american / canadian / capitalistic dream - we’re always wanting the next thing instead of appreciating what’s in front of us. both of those women, and others i’m sure - would have given everything they have for the choices that we have today.
ladies - when you go to work tomorrow in your pumps, stand a little taller and strut a harder. everything that we need is right in front of us.