August 30, 2011

When You Listen

I'm a member of a national woman's organization. We do good things, in particular with the Veterans. We are very supportive of our military and we try to do good things in promoting patriotism and helping children in bad situations.

I like the organization. It's like anything else, however, there are things that I find annoying, some women I find really irritating, but mostly, I've been in it so long, I enjoy it.

I enjoy the women.

It is through them that I think I finally enjoyed the fact I was a woman, instead of being seriously irritated I wasn't born a man. Through them, through the wide variety of women I have met, I have been able to see what we bring to the table. I have met women who have served in our military during WWII, doctors before women became doctors, women who have had children die, women who have survived every kind of hardship imaginable... while holding it all together.

I have met amazingly intelligent women who have done things in their life that I cannot imagine.

Ten years ago I was 'president' of my local chapter, a chapter of over 200 women. I was 'the young one', taking the job at 35. Nobody doubted my capabilities. Funny that... but not once did I ever have a woman doubt my capabilities... they just assumed I could do the job and would ask for help if I could not.

And that is how I met... Sally. I'll call her Sally White. I had just taken the job as chief chick in charge when I had to fill all these chairmanships. I called her and this was pretty much our conversation, if I recall correctly. I knew she was one of our older members. She was spry and quick and smart.

Me: Sally! Hey, I need you to take Conservation for me.

Sally: Bou, I don't have time for that...

Me: PLEASE? Come on. I promise I won't call you and badger you to do anything. I just need a name for the book so I can say I filled the job.

Sally: You can't find anyone else?

Me: Look, everyone knows and respects you. Please take this for me. Please. Please... PLEASE!!!

Sally: Fine, put me down. Are you back to work yet?

Me: *blink* Sally, I have three little ones now, 6, 4, and 2...

Sally: You need to get back in that work force before your skills die.

Me: Sally... I have three little kids!

Sally: Listen to me. You depend on no one. You need to get yourself back in that workforce and use your brain. Do NOT let it slip away. Get back out there.

Me: OK. I just need my youngest in Kindergarten.

Sally: Don't you wait too long, you hear? Get back out there.

Me: I get it. Ok...

Sally: Don't depend on anyone!

Me: OK. Hey, thanks for taking this position...

And we hung up shortly thereafter.

I was reading the obits this morning and saw that she had died. Sally was 101.

Folks, that means during the 'get back out there and don't depend on anyone' speech... she was... 91 years old.

Most people of her generation lament that not enough women stay home. Not Sally. She was frickin' pushing me out the door.

Then I read that she published a book at age 97. Moss didn't grow under her feet.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that when I was offered my job in 2005 that I didn't hear Sally's voice in my head. She's one of the reasons I took it.

She was an amazing woman. A mentor on aging...

Posted by Boudicca at August 30, 2011 09:33 PM

She sounds like an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing your story. It is motivating.

Posted by: sticks at August 31, 2011 05:00 AM

She sounds wonderful! And she was right; my brain has turned to mush. ;)

Posted by: pam at August 31, 2011 01:33 PM