What my Mom Opened the Door For.

“The idea that I should be fine with the status quo even if I am not wholly affected by the status quo is repulsive.” ~ Roxanne Gay

After decades. there comes a day when your mother’s goneness rubs up close, the way cats you don’t like swerve and lean into your ankles for attention.

You look behind the curtain of everything she’s missed.

Marriage to a man she never met. The divorce she didn’t get to hold your hand through.

Two degrees. She would’ve beamed with pride.

My dog mom self. I’m a pretty good one.

Teaching college. I bet she’d say, “Alice Ann, I told you you weren’t stupid.”

Becoming a writer, like she once entertained.

Sacred love. His death; my devastation.

My sister, your daughter Jayne earning her MBA. Your grandsons becoming men.

Tommy’s (her husband’s) cancer; Jayne’s grief.

Your daughters living together—in our 50s!

Our trips. Mom, we travel! Australia, North Carolina, D.C., Jamaica, Belize, Bahamas, Florida, and of course, New Mexico. Do you miss the sunsets?

We’ve come so far.

Oh, Mom! You would’ve loved Obama! And applauded Michelle.

The books that have been put out. Even you—voracious speed reader—would have trouble keeping up.

The shows we’ve seen! Wicked!, Phantom, Cirque du Soleil, Neil Diamond…

You would’ve loved going backstage at Balletmet and seeing the costume design center. I could feel your presence.

You’re like the wind, only noticeable when I stop and allow myself to feel.

And know: You’ve seen it all and been here when I needed you.

I need you now, Mom. I love you. I miss you—your wisdom and opinions I was too young to ponder before your passing.

There’s so much I wish I could ask you now.

Now, in these personally peaceful, but collectively chaotic times.

Mom, you should see the advances in women’s rights—and the reversals. You’d engage in the outrage.

You played a pivotal role for women’s progress.

Now, it’s my turn, our turn.

How did you do it, Mom? How did you have the gumption and ambition to create change when you were fired for being pregnant and lost a promotion because you were a woman?

You never stopped speaking, researching, and fighting. And you won.

A lawsuit against my hometown school system for sexual discrimination. Bravo! And then you shared your winnings with your grown children.

We were part of your journey. You did your best to fight for women’s rights, so we wouldn’t have to.

Thank you for leading as an example of a woman doing what’s right, being strong, and standing up for women.

You helped create the opportunities we’ve become accustomed to.

As a kid, I had no idea not all moms took part in the women’s movement of the 1970s. I thought all women stood up for women and women’s rights.

Nope. There will be those who sit it out as history reveals the character of our society, nation, and world. I don’t want to be one of them.

I intend to follow my mother’s footsteps and let my values determine my words and actions.

My mother, Sandra Dee Kelley, was a woman warrior. I’m proud to be her daughter.

Happy Birthday on the other side, Mom. I love you.