Today is Valentine’s day.
This is a day that marks so many things for me. Eight years ago today my mother died. She influenced me in so many ways. She was a strong woman. She taught me useful skills and while we worked we talked . I learned about her childhood, my grandparents, especially my grandmother. She was not close to her mother, there was a lot of kids of which she was wedged in the middle. They worked hard every day just to subsist on the farm. I heard about a few of the really rough times but mostly about the connecting times. Also around work, when everyone got together, worked and talked. In the winter along with her sisters she slept in the attic. They would warm large rocks for their bed, jump in and cuddle up to each other and share their deepest secrets.
As a child growing up I was surrounded by family, Aunts would gather with all their kids and we would run in a pack, The women in the kitchen, working, canning processing food for the winter, butchering chickens or helping each other with their massive gardens. To the modern working woman this may sound like drudgery, but as a child it was bliss. There was always an exceptional meal at the end.
When I had my own babies, my mother was there to support me, making pots of soup, childcare, hanging out the laundry and most of all offer an empathetic ear.
I always longed to work with women, never understanding the root of it. Through midwifery, woman’s organizations, art and now permaculture I have felt the presence of my mother and aunties.
As a young girl I never wanted to be like my mother. I can remember stating emphatically
” I will never be like her”
From gratitude and deep respect I proclaim that I am my mother!
Writing this today on the anniversary of her death, Valentine’s Day and The world-wide movement day for One Billion Rising has given me the inspiration the put pen to paper.
I am a daughter. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a grandmother.
I write this for my daughters and my newborn granddaughter.
I have fought in my life for women’s rights. I have risked going to jail for what I believe in. I have assisted women in birth who have experienced life and death in the same moment. Women who have given birth and out of undying love for that child given the baby up for adoption. Mostly I have seen women give birth to themselves.
I have also given myself away. In the passion of creating a better and just world I have forgotten to take care of myself.
Last year, I reemerged from a long period (13 months) of self-imposed isolation and contemplation to an expanded way of seeing the world.
As I embark on the next stage of my life, I am drawn to be in service to women.
This time it’s a gentle call, not a call to arms to fight the good fight or change the world by sacrificing myself, but by holding space, staying in one place, planting roots, gathering women and facilitating their journey to reawakening the power of connection.
Remembering Mabel Margret Page Papineau Born March 16th,1925, passed on February 14th. 2004.
My daughters with mom, 1998.