It’s Women’s History month…yeah!  We are all thankful to the famous women that have contributed to making the world a better place.  But do we ever search deep into our personal heritage to celebrate and discover which women made us who WE are?  They do not have to be well known or even related to us.  But they hold as much power and significance in our lives as the women in public history.

My grandmother died at the age of 59.  I was only 11 years old.  I remember things about her through memories, photos and what others tell me about her.  I see her personality and her physical appearance in my mom, as the only live resource of our connection.  But I am thankful to her for being who she was and how she made me who I am.  Do you know your grandmother?  What do you think of her?  Do you have anything that you feel is directly related to her?  Have you asked your mom or dad about her?   Personal genealogy shapes genetically who we are, but also personally who we are.

Have you ever been asked, “Who is your female role model?”  It may sound like a crazy question to some of you, but others may agree that it is a typical question asked through out your life.  I am a “pageant girl”.  I know this may stereotype me into a whole different category for some readers, however hear me out on this.  That question is a favorite for many pageants.  I have learned to answer it quite fluently with articulation, which has been practiced (in the mirror).  But this personal soul searching enabled me to really think about the women in my life and how they impacted who I am today.  My mother, as much as she has been my biggest fan and inspiration, is a typical answer for many.

Going beyond your mom, or grandmothers takes a bit more thought.  Can you stop and think of what other women in your life; from childhood (teacher), through the teenage years (guidance counselor or coach), through young adulthood (your first employer) or through middle age (friend, co-worker)?  How has their presence in your life made you who you are today?  How have their values impacted your choices and your journey?

We are made up of not only heredity but also the human sprits we meet along the way.  The people that impact a moment or a time in our lives when we learn the lessons we were meant to learn.  Sometimes we search them out and sometimes they just come to us from a higher power.

All my life, I have been intrinsically drawn to older women friends.  I guess you’d call them senior citizens.  Even as a very young girl, some of my best most memorable friends where elderly.

As a child of about 6 years old, a neighbor named Mrs. Giezer comes to mind distinctly.  I would spend hours at her house on a Saturday in the winters, learning how to formally drink tea, decipher different stones and gems, and read old classic novels.  I remember her smile and her wisdom.  How she intrigued me with her knowledge on life.

In my middle-school years, we moved to another home in a suburb of Buffalo.  Right next store to me lived 78-year-old “Sylvia”.  She became my best friend and allie.  I’d spent weekends with her learning to knit, how to make candle dripped vases and how to interview with people, all while National Public Radio (NPR) played in the background.   When I started dating, she would be the friend I would confide in with my “boy problems”.  She always felt like a grandmother to me.

After I married and had 3 little boys, living in Cleveland Ohio, I met my neighbor, an 80-something, widowed, woman named “Bobbie”.  She was quite active in the social circuits, especially with the Cleveland Orchestra.  I would spend hours with her discussing “old Cleveland socialites”, while my boys ran around her back yard and played in her old stoned wishing well.

Coming back to Rochester, 3 boys in tow, we moved to a beautiful historic home in the Park Avenue neighborhood.  Sure enough, the first month in our new home, I see a very small statured, old woman raking her leaves across the street from us.  One introduction and we became the best of friends.  This special lady was “historic” in the Rochester community.  Her name was Elizabeth Holahan, I was intrigued by her spirit and her confidence.  She was quite self sufficient and stubbornly active.  She lived in the oldest house in Rochester, (the Oliver Culver House at 70 East Boulevard). Her prestigious resume included being the top interior designer of her era, starting at Sibley’s Department store.  She restored George Eastman’s birthplace in Waterville, Oneida (now the Genesee Country Village and Museum, acquired the Stone Tolan House, directed the interior restoration of the Patrick Barry Mansion on Mt. Hope Avenue, was active with the Rochester Landmark Society and served as president of the Rochester Historical Society for 20 years.

Our time together was beautifully simple.  Besides the intricately remembered stories of her younger years, to include partying at the Eastman house with George, we spoke of design and historic preservation.  We talked about her family and her accomplishments as a single woman in a “mans world”.  Never married or having her own children, she loved having my sons over to her home.  She would make them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and watch them jump off her back outside patio and run around her old apple trees.  She became another unique spirit of who I am today.

We are women of unique expedition.  Our journey is one we own and follows us through the people we touch.  Some we remember distinctively and others we need to take more time to conceptualize.

Take a moment (or three), during “Women’s History’” month to reminisce about the women in your life.  The very souls that have guided nurtured and supported your personal being into shaping who you are today.  The person that feeds your passions and provides you with energy that comes from a power that enriches your soul.   Who are you and where did you come from?  You should know….

Because you’re worth it!!