This is a picture of my maternal grandmother Rosalie. Here she is standing with Shirley, Juanita, and Frances, next to a B29 airplane, the sort she worked to rivet in the effort of WWII. The fact of her name, and that she was often referred to as Rosie, gives her poignant possession of the title of a literal Rosie the Riveter.
Sadly, I did not get to know my Grandmother Rosalie very well. With her I feel a special connection from childhood memories, nonetheless. At one time my toddler self would sit at the piano, plunking out a special random arrangement of piano notes, solely for her enjoyment. As I glanced back over my shoulder now and again, she would respond, affirming in her southern drawl, “That’s beautiful, darlin’.” I would treat her to foot rubs and she would call me in that same endearing drawl, “my little angel.” These memories, amplified by my mother’s retelling, form the core of our bond. Scant as they are I treasure this bond and the fact that we got to share it, despite the usual long distance relationship. My mind reaches across the distances and lapses of time gone by in its yearning to have really known her well.
I imagine her time as a riveter. I’m sure that riveting was at least sometimes a grind, as the day-to-day is for any of us. And though it is an image evocative of opportunity for women, did it translate this way to her in particular? I’ve heard it said she gave up an education degree for work as a riveter. Which would have given her greater opportunity in the end?
I wonder if there was any way she could have known at the time, that this role of her life would be iconic. That she would represent a greater movement that would redefine how our culture viewed women. How our culture valued women. Amplified recognition for the way women contribute to our society. Strong. But beautiful in our strength. Competent. Inviting. Though I doubt she recognized her role in the movement at the time, I like to think that, in retrospect, she grasped her moment in history and what it embodied.
I owe a debt of gratitude to my mother, aunts and uncles that revive and share the story of their strong mother’s legacy. It is a powerful captured moment that binds the woven threads of legacy passed through generations. We will treasure it for posterity to come.
I believe there will be an icon of our age. And I want to be pictured in it. I believe women of our day are changing the image of strength. Competence, yes. Opportunity, yes. Strength, yes. But it’s not just career and it’s not just economics. It is our voices that are coming out. Voices that show our genuine humanity. Our voices of compassion, love and truth, of invitation and reconciliation and authentic peace.
The icon of our age, could it be the woman blogger? In this electronic age we are turning out in droves with themes of love and the kind of strength that invites relationship, invites reconciliation, that subverts the deadlock of the battling ideas of our age. Like water seeping through the space between stones, bringing refreshment and life to the hard immovable surfaces. Finding a third path, a fourth, and more that will bypass the adversity of the seemingly binary ideological choices at hand. Getting back to the rewarding work of people. With blog after blog, those who come after will know that these forces, these forces around us do not represent all of us. Women uninterested in augmenting conflict are speaking. Women, with souls thriving out of the Source of Love, speaking words of His love that bear little resemblance to any kind of political gridlock we are facing. They will know about the heart and soul of women at their best work. In our age of innumerable facades, our genuine voices are coming through.
I say let me in on the icon of our age. Let me be one of many to inundate our culture. An inundating icon, even when it’s a grind. Even when I am an anonymous cog of the movement. I long to bridge the gap with a passion for drawing us closer together, and with faith that reconciliation is possible. Let me be one that will reject demanding my rights and privileges, and will give voice to the causes for sacrifice, authenticity, and vulnerability. Let me be one to change the dynamic of our age. Let me be just one to mold the legacy of our generation.