Through my generational research, I have always thought to myself "why am I so vigilant about women's issues?" I knew both of my grandmothers, one very well. Perhaps more so than any of my cousins. There were 15 grand-children to Bessie Irene Primrose. This was accomplished with two husbands, and five children.
She lived with us the longest. You see...when her second husband died in 1946, there was NO social security or pension for her to fall back on. The social security act finally came into action in 1946. Eventually she qualified for a small survivor's benefit. The family came together, and my grandmother spent time in some of her grown children's homes. She ended up in our home for nearly 8 years. I have many wonderful memories of her. But in my puberty, self-involvement rarely entices a person to pay attention to the family matters, especially grandmothers.
My Grandmother finally left our home around 1966 and moved out of our Mendocino home up to Seattle, Washington to be with my Uncle and Aunts. The rest of her family was up there. Why did she leave? In my memory, my grandmother had worked as a garment working in Seattle during WWII. Because of her past-employment, brief that it was, she had union benefits of one the first "elder care homes/apartments" that my Aunt had looked into. My grandmother could live in a small apartment with a kitchenette. They provided daily meals in a large dining room, and I remember the building on "Haller Lake" in North Seattle. She had a beautiful view, and loved it there.
When looking at the options for elder care then and all the loops and games I had to play to get my own mother care, perhaps these experiences stayed with me. Perhaps that is why I did such a fine job, making sure my mother was taken care of, making sure every benefit she had coming was used. I'm proud of that.
Along that journey we make promises to ourselves. We put them in the back of our own memory banks, silently sitting there ready to pull out and refer to, when needed. I think I have become quite good at that.
That being said, my 14 years in the political/public service realm at the same time creating a career in government was another promise to myself. I knew that working for a private company (which I did several times in my early career) was not going to give me the security that a job in government would give me. At the age of 30, I went into a public agency and worked for 15 years, vested my pension, and then went on to work in my Information Technology field at a school district, giving me more security in my pensions. The promise to myself -- long planted in my brain by my grandmother and my mother -- "if you go to college and pick up a skill, you will always be able to fall back on that skill if your journey through marriage fails". In the case of my grandmother, two episodes of widowhood. My mother, one episode of widowhood. Women must promise themselves to be self-sufficient. If they don't, then the struggle is just much more difficult.
I don't want to explain that this writing is self aggrandizing, it is not meant to be. But it is my full intention that, if I can't make waves representing the women and children who can't, what does that do to help them?
Being in politics can be hurtful and perhaps desensitizing to the person in politics. But I always remind myself, if not me, then who? If not now, then when? I thought I had passed my moment in politics, but the current state of our country has revitalized my passion. It is a promise to myself, that I mentor younger women and men, that this call to service is just as patriotic as it is when called to military service. I may not be wearing a uniform, but I will wear my badge of courage to keep up the fight for women and children. That is my promise to myself.