When I was forty years old, a friend handed me a novel to read, saying that they thought I’d enjoy it. It was entitled The Divine Secrets of the YA-YA Sisterhood. Now please DO NOT confuse the novel with the movie adaptation, because in my view there’s no comparison. As I consumed those pages my thinking was expanded in regard to my Mother, her friends and all the grown-up women throughout my life that I’d looked at as authority figures. Truth be told, I didn’t think of them as women with a history, one that had helped shape them to become the women I knew them to be. This book was no Pulitzer Prize winning work of fiction, but for me it was a path to opening a door of understanding, appreciation and admiration for the women in my life. Up until that point, I’d never thought too far beyond my frequent annoyance with their quirks and idiosyncrasies . I grew up with some pretty colorful females in my life. Our family had a bit of a shortage of males, so I was surrounded by a bunch of strong female personalities.
As the story unfolded going back and forth from present day to the childhood of the members of the sisterhood, I began to piece together bits of stories, from my own Mothers history, my Aunts, my Grandmother and those of my own childhood girlfriends. A beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking ribbon of connection began to thread its way through those stories, and the formula for their lives, and who they became began to emerge. I would no longer be able to see the women in my life in quite the same way. I was overwhelmed by the things they’d gone through at different points in their life and I felt admiration for the courage they’d exhibited in not just surviving, but going on to flourish. From childhood trauma to heartbreak, divorce, death and everything in between, I began to see women as warriors.
Over the last few years I’ve attended a women’s support group that has helped me to deal with some of those things I’ve bumped up against in my own life. We gather not to just talk about those days, but most importantly to learn new tools and life skills to combat old coping mechanisms that don’t serve us well in living our best lives. I listen to the history of other women in these sessions and I am once again overwhelmed by the resilience of my sisterhood.
In the last month as I’ve traveled, I’ve been fortunate to visit with women who shared their stories with me. We laughed, we cried and encouraged one another. I came away from those visits realizing that we are all connected. We are all part of a glorious great big tribe. A tribe of which I consider myself to be a humble member, humbled in the sight of your strength and dignity. I’ve known so many divine, outstanding women throughout my life. I’ve been blessed to have been called a friend by you. Privileged to know your story and to watch your example of carrying on in the face of the things you’ve gone through.
This morning as I sit on our little porch and think of you, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for your friendship, for your life and I just want to say how much I appreciate each of you and CARRY ON WARRIORS!
Cheering you on with shouts of “TOWANDA!” and much love,
Towandagal (Jane’s daughter)