I’m related to these women.
I’m from these women.
I’m of these women.
I know these women.
I never met these women.
Tree branches full of women.
Names of women.
So many women.
Faces of women.
Hands of women.
Heights of women.
All of these things are familiar.
Yet all of these things are foreign.
I see film footage of these women.
It was shot 100 years ago.
I was born long after they died.
I see birth certificates for these women.
I see marriage certificates for these women.
I see naturalisation documents for these women.
I see census records for these women.
I see death certificates for these women.
I see burial records for these women.
And still we power on.
There are men in my family too.
There have to be.
It’s how we’re created.
Men who loved their women.
Men who supported their women.
Men who knew the worth of their women.
Of my women.
Of our women.
Men who sent their daughters to university half a world away.
Men who educated their daughters when others didn’t teach theirs to read.
Men who kissed their mothers.
Men who hugged their daughters.
Men who valued their wives.
As I learn more and more of the (men and) women who came before me, I think of the stories I already knew of those I followed.
I was named for the strongest woman in town.
And I live with that responsibility.
With that gift.
My mother was shaped by her.
And it shows.
And I, in turn, I am shaped by my Ruthy.
And it shows.
Olya stole her husband from another.
There’s a few versions of the story.
She was a beautiful, single girl in a poor shtetl in Russia.
He was a handsome older man who’d made a life for himself in Australia.
She wasn’t stupid.
She got herself a husband.
She came to Australia.
The life she built for herself and her family (with her husband) is one that I still reap the benefits of today.
I thank this woman.
These women are some of the most intelligent people that I know.
Not just because of any education they did or did not receive.
But because they possess emotional intelligence.
And intellectual intelligence.
And the ability to see a situation from more sides than their own.
And the resourcefulness to support others around them (without always drawing attention).
These are my women.
But they are the stories of all women.
In a week that celebrated International Women’s Day and a massive family reunion, it seems fitting to think upon.
What will my woman story be?
A human story.