From hardship springs resourcefulness
This month I’ve heard the stories of 2 ordinary, yet remarkable women. These stories resonated with me. Stayed with me.
Firstly Alice. (Names have been changed to protect people’s identity). Alice was born in 1928 and died recently aged 94. Her granddaughter shared her memories of Alice at her funeral service. I’ve met Alice on a handful of occasions over the past 30 years, yet I had little idea how strong and resourceful she was. Alice was raised by aunts in rural Western Australia and left school age 14. She married, raised 4 children and fed innumerable family, friends and strangers. She was, as her granddaughter described, ‘stoic, brave and resilient’ . Her family and friends loved and respected Alice as a strong female presence who was firm and honest.
Secondly, Caroline. Caroline was born in England in 1918 and immigrated to Australia with her family in 1926. The home she left behind was a solid comfortable two storey residence with hot and cold water plumbing. Her family migrated to Western Australia as part of a ‘Group Settlement Scheme’. This involved living in a tent, next to a creek in the southwest of Western Australia. Twenty families would be assigned an area of land, covered in thick scrub and tall trees. They were to clear the land, with the aim that they would each then receive a parcel of this land, and it was to be used for dairy farming. Soon the Great Depression descended and by 1932, the unemployment rate in Australia was a mind boggling thirty percent. Living rurally had it’s advantages as it was easier to grow food and rear livestock.
Caroline brought seven children into the world, one of whom died in infancy. She lived to 101, and her daughter told me she was a gracious lady, who even in her 90’s was determined not to be a burden on her children.
What struck me as I reflected on these two remarkable women, was that I am only separated by them in age by less than 50 years, (two generations), and my life has been vastly different. The first home my husband and I purchased was a little one bedroom cottage with the toilet outside. A minor inconvenience compared to life in a tent. Nowadays two car families are the norm, automatic washing machines and dishwashers standard equipment, and if we live far from a major shopping centre there’s an online world wide range of shops at our fingertips.
I was grateful for a sense of awe at the adversity these women met, yet out of it they grew stronger and more resourceful. And gratitude for the opportunities I’ve had to raise a family while simultaneously enjoying a rewarding career, and a life of relative physical ease. Of course, each generation has it’s unique culture, challenges, and hardships.
I’m dedicating this post to the sisters, friends, mothers, aunts, grandmothers, teachers and other women who have nurtured us, inspired us, who faced adversity yet lived with grace, courage, grit, and resilience. I’m grateful to those pioneer women who ultimately gave us amazing opportunities. Who comes to your mind as you reflect on women who have inspired you?
Wishing you a day full to the brim and overflowing with vitality.