It’s International Women’s Day today. It’s time to remember the single mothers who went before me, their footsteps creating a path.
Two sisters worked as home help in my family home for over 40 years, long before I was born, and long after I left. The older cleaned the house and swept the yard, her younger sister was the cook. With a national business to run, my parents, especially my mother, travelled frequently. So, we considered both sisters as our nanny. As was the custom of their culture, they married barely into their teens, one had two children, the other, only one. Both were widowed before they were out of their teens. Our family became theirs, theirs, became ours. The women worked their respective roles, as employees and as parents, never complaining about what might have been. They set the bar high for me.
Then there was the lady who came in to wash the dishes. She had seven children, and a husband who was an opium addict. She may as well have been single. She did her chores, a toddler or infant welded to her hip. She often found reason to throw back her mane of dark hair, and laugh. The sound remains. It filled the empty in her, and, now me.
A neighbour, we called Aunty M, was bedridden, the reason, never discussed. She raised two children on her own, a son excelled and won a scholarship to study overseas. He is now a grandfather in Canada and a patriarch. I don’t recall any curiosity about the absence of Aunty M’s husband, it was just a known and accepted fact. Perhaps she was a widow. Perhaps not. It didn’t matter, from her bed, she still created a path.
I feel blessed to have these women grace my life without rhyme or reason. They were there to guide me on a path I never thought I would have taken.
As is the memory of them, I am stronger for the experience.
Until next time
a dawn bird