by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.
It’s a story that needs to be told. Many women have left their imprint on history, but her-stories historically have not been published. Women have touched and changed lives, and their beneficiaries do well to recognize those who have impacted their lives.
The theme for this year’s National Women’s History Month is “Women Inspiring Hope and Possibility.” I’ve decided it’s about time I recognize and honor the two women who have inspired me and taught me most about life, courage and persistence.
Most folks reading this do not know my mother and never will. But her story may sound familiar to some. By society’s standards, even today, she was a child bride. Unhappy at home with her mom and stepfather, she was easily wooed by a handsome young man in uniform. Her teen years were spent as a wife and mother of two. By 1967, she was the mother of four children – three of them grown. She had been married two-thirds of her life.
She struggled with a troubled marriage and health problems. What was next for her? When her marriage ended in divorce, she hit the road taking me and little else. She did manage to pack her ice cream freezer, Bible and another book a friend had given to her that I’ll mention later. Our journey not only took us westward. It would be a life-finding journey for my mother that would bless my life more than I have space to say.
How can I summarize her next forty years? My mother found a new life for herself step by step. She never gave up no matter how rough and bumpy the road got. Her belief in herself grew as her trust in God grew. Over the course of these years there were many firsts and accomplishments: her own car, bank account, credit card, a house, swimming pool, GED, college, and a career. There were also the intangibles: happiness, peace of mind, satisfaction, freedom, identity, self-completeness, fulfillment, and health.
I think of the example my mother has been for me. Her life has taught me: “It’s never too late.” “Never give up”. “No hill is too steep to climb.” “Beginnings and first times can happen throughout life at any age.” “Happiness is not bought with money.” “Home is in your heart.” “Joy is God-given and can’t be taken from you.” I could go on and on!
Another woman gave my mother much inspiration as she began her life anew. She had an enormous influence on my life as well.
The first forty years of her life was full of struggles and chronic poor health. Widowed three months before the birth of her only child, she returned to her parent’s home for support. Her second husband proved unfaithful and abandoned her. She eventually divorced him. Then, following a serious accident, she found healing answers in the Bible. And like my mother, she established a new life.
Mary Baker Eddy became an influential American author, teacher and religious leader, noted for her groundbreaking ideas about spirituality and health, which she named Christian Science. She articulated those ideas in, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. This was the book the friend gave to my mom. Her revolutionary ideas were based on the healing works of Christ Jesus, which she saw as divinely natural and repeatable.
For my mom, Science and Health was life regenerating, giving her comfort, hope and practical ideas about prayer and healing. She gained a new view of her identity that proved to be health giving and self-transforming. Perhaps it was the opening line of this book that affirmed the promise of my mom’s forward course: “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.”
In her book, Mary Baker Eddy, author, Gillian Gill, describes the life journey of this remarkable woman. “Conventional in her twenties, weak in her thirties, struggling in her forties, a social outcast in her fifties, indefatigably working in her sixties, famous in her seventies, formidable in her eighties, Mrs. Eddy rewrites the female plot and offers new ways to strive and achieve.” The life journeys of both my mother and Mary Baker Eddy illustrate how anyone can overcome difficulties and hardships, achieve a goal, fulfill a dream, and make a vision reality. No words are truer than these of Mary Baker Eddy. “The lives of great men and women are miracles of patience and perseverance.”
My mom’s transformation and Mary Baker Eddy’s ideas have guided my own life. The lives of these two women are examples to me of achievement against great odds, and instill in me a conviction that anything is possible.
So it’s time for me to say “thank you” to my mother and to Mary Baker Eddy for life lessons that have left indelible marks on me and many others.