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A letter to my daughter


2017 has, for the most part, sucked. Your grandmother spent the last five weeks being (hopefully successfully) treated for the same cancer that took her sister's life just months before her own diagnosis, and, while ever proud and feisty, she's tired now. Quietly, scarily tired.

 

Your grandmother, who travelled the world solo in the 70s, who stood for the restoration of democracy in the Philippines, who proved that those who work in travel somehow find enough hours in the day to be both a full time mum and a full time boss, who was more adventurous, braver, and more giving than I can ever hope to be, is laying down her mantle, and I worry that I'm not strong enough to lift it.

 

Today is International Women's Day. And people across the globe are either embracing it, bored by it, or decrying it - in case you're wondering, there's an International Men's Day too (though there's even an International Bum Bag Day, so...). I'm using today to tell you about one of the most wonderful women I know.

 

Mum, retired now, worked hard. Some called her a workaholic, as opposed to being a 'full time' mum (I wasn't aware that you could turn off your motherhood). Sure Mum didn't work in the school canteen or pick me up from school, but she was there to help when I couldn't do my three times tables and never missed a performance no matter how small my role. And she taught me that women could be the bread winners, that they could succeed in multiple and varied ways. Her biggest detractors were women too, which confused me and locked Mum in a cycle of guilt that is still prevalent in all parents, regardless of gender, today.

 

Mum values education, though education, to her, is not confined to a classroom. She has travelled and encourages travel as the great teacher, the great humbler. An open mind isn't enough; a mind willing to change if or when needed was, and is still, the goal. Trump, take heed.

 

We go back to the oncologist in a couple of weeks and I fear that waiting room. But at least cancer does not discriminate. It takes people of all races, political views and genders. Maybe, before curing the vile thing, we need to take a lesson from it.

 

Happy IWD. #BeBoldForChange and for all the women out there and those who love and are loved by them.

 


Written by: Gaya Avery
Published: 8 March 2017

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