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Writing Strong Women

Writing Strong Women

I am attending the wedding of my youngest son this week, so my mind goes to family even more that normal. To that end, I am posting a re-run blog post about my mother. And while I am here, I am collecting powerful ideas for new blog posts on strong women.


People hear I am an author writing strong women, and the first thing they ask is if I grew up around strong women. My first reaction was to say no, I didn’t. But in retrospect, strong women come in all sizes and versions.

My mother, Ruth Thomas, did not model for me how to find my voice, or how to stand up for myself, or how to be assertive and develop a healthy self-confidence. Nor did she teach me I could do anything.

My mother, Ruth Thomas, was born in early September in the year 1919. She and a younger sister, born two years later, where considered ‘change of life babies.’ Their mother, Dora, The women in my family did not have a voice. With little education or communication skills, they never learned to be assertive, nor did they achieve lofty goals. (And likewise, they had no women role models in their life modeling those straits.) For the most part, they survived, and perhaps a few thrived. The idea of them working outside the home was something their husbands would never approve or allow. They spent their lives as dependent, submissive, subservient women. Perhaps that’s a lesson in itself. It certainly inspired me to step outside the mold they set for me. However, it took me until mid-life, and decisions on my part to get there. It was a tremendous struggle.  Sometimes I wonder how different my life would have been if I had those strong role models.

That’s not to say the women in my life didn’t have the strength of staying power. They fulfilled their responsibilities as wives and mothers. They survived the tough times of the Great Depression and two world wars. They washed their family’s clothes on rub boards with lye soap, or out in the backyard over a wash pot. They cooked, they cleaned, they went to church, and they fed the preacher on Sundays. They delivered their children with little or no anesthesia. That takes a certain type of strength, don’t you think?

Strong women come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Silvia, Here is my story. I indirectly wrote about my great aunt Rose in my Chile Recipe story. Aunt Rose was born and raised in coal country in upstate Pennsylvania. She was both an aunt and a cousin, being related to my grandmother before she married my grandfather’s brother. To make a long story short, she had three sons by her husband and her husband was abusive to the point of her taking her children to Philadelphia and working as a domestic and cook for many years. She was a good Catholic and she could not reconcile to her husband because of the abuse. She sought a divorce in the civil courts which was unthinkable back in forties. The story goes that her young ambitious nephew, a monsignor, did not want her to get a divorce, that the publicity of it would ruin his political ambitions. He did eventually become a bishop. She had to change her last name legally in order to file for divorce and not embarass her family. I know she was strong. She raised three boys on her own as a single mother in rough economic times. You might remember her chile recipe.

    October 19, 2011
    • Michael, what a powerful story. I will certainly try her chili recipe and let u know how it turns out. Question: good cooks and strong women – wondering if a woman with the power to create delicious recipes and being a strong woman always go together? I cannot think of an example where that is not true. Thoughts? Know anyone that isnt?

      I never had thought about it from that perspective. Would love to hear what you and others know about it.

      October 19, 2011

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