Today, on National Woman's Day, I've been wrestling with a few things.
1). I find it more than a bit ironic that in my home country which celebrates and emphasizes equality and freedom, I never knew there was a national holiday that celebrated women. I had to move to a communist country to find that out.
2). Is taking one day out of the year really honoring to women? Or is it actually highlighting the fact that honoring woman isn't part of our daily lives? Shouldn't we be doing this every day? Not just today?
This was my initial thought and even had a few conversations that validated this idea, but then I thought of Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. I thought Memorial Day and Veterans Day and how we celebrate these days to remind us of who we are, where we come from, and to remember the sacrifices others have made to bring us where we are today; they remind us of what's important.
A day celebrating and reminding us of just how important woman suddenly didn't seem so bad, but rather justified.
3). And so, like many others, I wanted to post something, to show my gratitude.
At first I thought of possibly something by Maya Angelou, maybe Phenomenal Woman, but that seemed a bit too cliche. So I considered something more enlightening, like the fact that out of the 100 most influential people in the history of the world, only three women made the list. Or the fact that there are only six matriarchal societies in this whole entire world. But for some reason or another, none of these seemed right. Appropriate. Or fully honoring.
Then a notification slid across my computer screen which reminded me that today is Madge Miller's birthday.
Only it isn't, because she died in November.
Memories of my sweet grandma flooded my day, and then suddenly, honoring woman wasn't so difficult.
My grandmother stood just over five feet tall and, for most of my life, had bleach white hair. She wore pearl earrings, smiled like a child, and planted some of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen. She was an artist, and once, while out with all of us grandkids, she bought Terminator sunglasses, because she was awesome.
So was my grandpa. Stanley (who died almost 10 years ago) toward over my Grandmother. His voice and confidence would force knees to knock and his squinty one-eyed cackle would put all to ease. He ran his own company, "Miller Engineering", was a wood-working magician, and one helluva fishermen. Some of my favored childhood memories are on the boat with gramps.
But this is woman's day. Men shouldn't be involved, right?
Maybe. Except for this. Sometimes the greatest way to understand something, to appreciate and gain further understanding of something, it's best to compare it to somethings that it isn't.
And my grandmother, in many ways, was not like my grandfather.
As a young boy, my grandfather was intimidating. Whenever I was in danger or whenever I was in desperate need, my grandfather was there, ready to defend and protect his grandson, but he was the Aslan type - good, but not safe.
My grandmother was the grandmother type - good and fully safe. She took me blue berry picking, taught me how to make my bed properly, and made me feel comfortable and calm all day long. She's who I sat next to on the couch, who I took walks with along the beach of Lake Michigan, and who crawled under the table with my cousins and I for lunch.
While my grandfather was strong and stoic, my grandmother was strong and sweet. While my grandfather drew hard lines, by grandmother drew circles. She contradicted my grandfather, and she complimented him. And he knew it. In all my years, I have never seen a man honor his wife like my grandfather honored his. She was his equal, his counterpart, and his completion.
When I think of my grandparents, I think of wisdom. My grandfather the distant and intimidating type; my grandmother was the cuddle up on the couch with a blanket and hot chocolate type. The kind you cling to all day, the kind you never want to leave your side. The kind Proverbs talks about.
My grandparents have reminded me how to honor and remember woman. To acknowledge their differences, their strengths, and their full and beautiful contribution.
I know woman are beautifully and wonderfully made. That they are strong and smart and undefinable; that they have contributed greatly to our world and that they are fully under appreciative and under acknowledged. And I know without them, this world would be dull and incomplete, because I knew my grandmother.
And today, on National Woman's Day, it is her birthday.
Happy Birthday Grandma.