It’s December 1st. Today is the birthday of one of the most important people in my life – my oldest (though younger than me) pal, Lynn.
Lynn is the most loyal friend you could ask for. We first met in kindergarten, and we're still like sisters today. She moved with her family to a city about 30 minutes away from our town just as we finished our first year of high school, but ever since then, despite those gaps in time – some larger, some smaller – we never let go of each other. And the best thing about us is that, EVERY SINGLE TIME we’ve got together, particularly after those longer gaps, we’ve marvelled at how comfortable and real it is together. Like time has evaporated.
Lynn, I know we’ll be still finding those times after the gaps when we’re 80. I can’t remember life without you pal. I can remember you and your girly sniffing into a hankie when you fretted about how you were going to get home from school on the first day of kindergarten. You still talk about that time a year later when I announced in grade one that my sister Jane was born.
I remember us mostly in the seventies. When CKLW ran Top 40 songs over the AM waves to our little radios – people like Paul McCartney and Wings, Gordon Lightfoot, Mac Davis, Terry Jacks and Elton John. I remember when we both had bedrooms covered in orange wallpaper. I can still hear the sound of the spoon stirring the tea when your mom brewed us a pot after school.
I remember when we stole a couple of cigarettes from your mom’s Rothman’s pack and took them and “smoked” them behind our school before the weekly watching of the Amherstburg Band practice. I remember both of our first kisses. I remember that we both got our periods two months after our 12th birthdays. When we had sleepovers at your house on a Friday night, we got to have coke and Lays chips. When we had sleepovers at my house, we had under-the-broiler grilled cheese sandwiches.
Happy birthday sister-friend. I hope you had a good day. If we don’t see each other real soon – I know we’ll both be comfortable in the knowing that when we do, it’ll be as fun and familiar as it ever was.
On this fourteenth day of posting things beautiful, I’m thinking about women. I was born into a family that is heavy in the girl population. As such we’re all independent, strong and never had to think about any sort of limitations placed on us due to our “role” in things. Being a single mom was certainly not the ideal situation, but I never harboured one doubt about my ability to raise my girls alone, and do it well.
Having girls has always been something to celebrate – indeed, both sides of my family are filled with remarkable women throughout its history and we’re continuing to crank them out. We’re intelligent, creative, brave, funny, capable, loving, resourceful, interested, informed and we love being girls.
Lots of women around the world aren’t as lucky as we are. Many of the world’s women are born into cultures that discriminate against them and withhold many of their rights, such as education. Twenty percent of the world’s adult population lacks basic literacy skills, and two-thirds of those are women. Without basic literacy, these women lack the resources to overcome poverty.
Women all over the world lack access to resources. In my own country day care and early learning are chronically underfunded; in terms of access to affordable and available child care spaces, Canada is ranked last among the developed nations, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. What does that mean? Mothers can’t afford to go to work, or to school, and remain under the poverty line.
Many women don’t have the choice or access to resources to limit the amount of pregnancies they have or to prevent the transmission of disease. Many countries don’t protect women from violence and abuse.
Today is International Women’s Day and there’s lots to celebrate. We’ve achieved much. But many of us aren’t so lucky, and on this day we should remember them, and resolve to do what we can to support them. Because this worldwide tapestry of sisterhood is beautiful – and when any part of it is damaged it weakens the whole.