Happy Women’s International Day today!
To be a woman IS wonderful and for years now March 8th has been designated to celebrate our greatness. This is not because men are not to be celebrated and it is not even that we, women, want to be compared or measured in any way with men. Men too are aware of this huge change…for the better, well except for the few who may be bred and wired to think that women are second class citizens but this blog is to celebrate, to praise and a feel good piece, so…
Being raised in the 50’s and 60’s, the media portrayed women as passive, mediocre and not always too intelligent human beings. Oh, but they were glamorous, they could sing, they could dance and boy oh boy they could dress real fine and cook too! I was fortunate to be raised by my mom and my maternal grandmother. Both women worked!! In the 50’s not many women worked especially in small towns in Quebec. Being raised by strong willed, nurturing and amazing women, I had good models.
My grandmother, Gervaise Robert Daudelin, was a midwife and known as the village nurse. She was a strong willed women with a huge heart and brilliant mind. She understood people and they all loved her. I learned, at a young age, to give back and help my community…not out of religious obligation or guilt but out of compassion. She was also an amazing cook, had boarders in her home during the depression and during WW 2; she actually supported the family through tough times but in those days, a woman did it in the shadows. She was an amazing woman, friend, wife, mother of 7 children and greatest grandmother. She raised her family and raised my sister and myself and encouraged my mom and taught her that there was life after divorce (another thing that was rare in the mid 60’s in a small French Canadian town).
My mom, Colombe Daudelin, was a beautiful, glamorous and loving women, wife, mom and hairdresser…the latter that taught me just a bit about glamour…my mom, however, had it down pat alright. She was nicknamed Bette, after Bette Davis as a child and frankly she was much more beautiful than Ms. Davis and had aged much better without any cosmetic surgeries.
She had quit school at 14 to take care of her baby brother and then went on to hairdressing school at The Bay (Hudson Bay at that time). She devoted her life to pleasing people but she taught me to think of me for a change and have fun.
She supported her family throughout her entire marriage and thereafter. She blessed me and my children with such joy, spontaneity and her joie de vivre. My kids and grandson talk about “Nanny” with fondness and always with a smile or a chuckle.
My dear aunt, Mae Roberts Giroux, was my father’s sister and she has been an inspiration as well. She is an amazing artist and wonderful person. Her passion is art since she was a child having gone to École des Beaux Arts throughout her youth yet denied to further her studies because in art because “women just did not do that then!” Women in the 40
s and 50s could go into teaching, nursing or definitely secretarial. So Aunt Mae put her dream of being artist on hold for a few decades.
Speaking of secretaries, they were largely men who performed these duties, before male management realised they could get a woman to do the same job for less than half the salary. My father was a secretary with Canadian Pacific Railway years ago before women were hired to do it for much cheaper.
Aunt Mae raised 3 boys and returned to the Ontario College of Art in Toronto to get her art degree in her 40`s. I admire her determination and her talent.
Her husband encouraged her and he too was a man way ahead of his times…being a nurturer as well and having faith in his wife. Both have inspired me in so many ways. They encouraged me to risk change and believe in myself.
Of course I was also influenced by amazing women growing up like Dr. Marie Curie, my grade school teacher, Mrs. Grant, in high school, Sister Dufferin, Professors Marilyn Taylor, Mia Lobel and Pauline Gross from Concordia University. My mentors are many such as Selma Corobow (former Family Life Educator and manager CLSC Metro, Montreal), Dianne Goodyear who taught me to believe in myself and to trust my instincts (Family Life Educator), Diane Richard, a friend (Social Worker) and mentor who believed in me sometimes more than I did; Of course I have amazing friends, women who have enriched my life and taught me so much and I have learned from as many in my age group as from younger friends. Wonderful women like Rolande, Huguette, Annette, Dominique, Debbie, Maria, Michelle, France, Beatrice, Jenns (there are 4!), Pat, Jay, Pascale, Sara, Margie, Nicole, Peggy, Cécile, Jane and Joyce, Giséle, Janice, Donna, Valérie, Marie-Hélène, Judith, Sue, Kathie, Shelly, Sandy, Lise (2), Louise, Ghislaine, Karen, Denise, Pauline and many more many more.
So pay tribute to YOU first and foremost, to the wonderful woman you are and share a bit of that special person that YOU are so your “specialness” can carry on.
© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, March 8, 2019
To view Mae Giroux’s Art check on her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/mae.giroux/photos