Here’s to all fabulous women

We all know women who inspire us, be they the pioneers of our heritage–those Amelia Earhart types: courageous, living on the edge, outspoken, adventurous, challenged, spirited women folk.
Maybe they are our grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, teachers, best friends, and/or a host of other women who have motivated us to the good.
On April 12, I attended a “History on Tap” presentation by the Koochiching County Historical Society/Museum (International Falls, Mn.) entitled “Women in the Wild-Stories of Pioneer Women in Border Country.”
What can I say but WOW! And I thought my bravery to walk alone to the barn yesterday evening at an eerie late dusk, while not wearing an overcoat or a toque, took some fortitude.
Annie Shelland-Williams, Violet Kielczewski, Betty Berger-Lessard, Lydia Torry, Bessie McPeek, Maggie Sha Sha, Jane LaFramboise, Maude Riker Vanderwalk, Mary Earley-O’Loughlin, Mary Colwell, Dr. Mary Ghostley, The Bower Sisters (Katherine, Anna, Melissa, and Martha), Hannah Pendergast, Mable Freebury Parker, Selma Branlund-Hoglund, and Jessie Singleton–they all take the cake for fortitude.
These fabulous women, both Canadian- and American-born, and many arriving in the area from more comfortable circumstance to forge out a wilderness life with their husbands (and without after their husbands died) led lives we, in today’s society of luxuries, likely would fail miserably at.
I wondered as I read the story boards filled with vintage photographs, and listened to the history lesson that captured but a fraction of the lives of these pioneer women who once lived around here in the early 1900s, what they would think about all this wide-eyed fascination we have about what they carved out as the matriarchs of the many families that grew from their indomitable spirits.
Would Violet tear up, Maggie bite her lip, Hannah shake her head? Would the Bower Sisters slap their right knees and kick back in laughter and wonder what all the fuss was about?
I suspect, the range of emotion would be as infinitely tender and fragile, yet resilient and proud, as that of the you-and-me women of today.
I’d like to believe that whatever the life challenges these pioneer women had, they never strayed too far from believing they could do anything. Never swayed in their faith and never used life’s difficulties as an excuse for setting the bar too low.
I have a 1927 photograph of my late Grandma Florence holding a Bible and surrounded by eight other young gals whose names are written on the back. They include Lucille Heward, Adeline Steele, Eva and Annie Caul (grandma’s sisters), Gladys McLeod, Astrid and Alice Herrem, and Vera Hanes.
The photograph shouts to me “carpe diem” and how fast time flies, and I am reminded again to listen a little harder to the stories of the women I admire who are alive in my life today: to my mother, to my Norma Jean, Tanice, Cheryl, Jody, Jan, and Ms. Carla M., and especially to my three daughters.
Don’t miss your opportunity to do that with the women you love.

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