Sunday, May 13, 2012

Salute to my friends who are not mothers.

It's Mother's Day, a day to honour mothers.  A day for a lot of schmaltz, too. On a church bulletin board I read the slogan, "God could not be everywhere so He invented mothers."  The intentions are good but the sentiment is so bad on so many levels.

I loved my mother, and miss her still, but today I'd like to pay tribute to several women who were/are not mothers but who have had a positive influence upon my life and many others.

I remember my friend Helen, now dead and gone. She was an art teacher in a secondary school, close to retirement age when I met her, working full time while arranging the care for her aged mother.  I will never forget her generosity in befriending one of her colleagues who had serious health problems. Helen was single, and, in her era, single women didn't have children.

Just a few years ago my friend Vivian passed on at the age of  92. I got to know her late her life when she was in my creative writing class at a retirement residence.  After the course was over I continued to visit her, right up until she died, because she was so interesting. Vivian started her working life in her late teens as a secretary for a trade union, and was head-hunted in 1945 to work for the United Nations. She had travelled extensively and had many unusual stories.  She was also the sole support of her aged mother for many years.  She once told me that in her day, you couldn't have a career and a husband too; you had to choose.  Although Vivian sometimes referred in passing to "friends" in her past who were male, I don't think she regretted choosing her career over marriage and motherhood. She had four good friends, younger than she,  who were in contact with her until she died.

I also have several "childfree" women friends and acquaintances who are very much alive. One is a college instructor who went back to school as a mature person to get her Ph.D. in English. She will be reading a manuscript for me next week and I know she is going to give it her full, undistracted attention. Another friend, a writer who is a married woman with no kids, like myself, does careful research for her historical articles, which are so smoothly written that it seems to the casual reader that she pulled them out of thin air.  Another has a professional job in a medical field along with wide-ranging interests which include travel and the theatre. She has a wide circle of friends, including me and my husband (who may be the most boring couple in the western hemisphere, but she likes us anyway.)

I could write several more paragraphs about other women without children whom I like and admire, but might get repetitive, so I'll end by saying, "Congratulations on your lives lived well."

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