When I post on Thursdays, sometimes, it's nice to give a big list of things for which I am thankful. I am thankful for so many things everyday. Today, I am just going to be thankful for one, and then share a little story.
Today, I am thankful for the example of my aunt.
The woman who is the namesake of my daughter is married to my father's youngest brother. She met my uncle when she was 13 years old, and told me once that there was only ever one other young man other than my uncle who captured her attention, and it lasted only two days. She knew who she wanted, and it never really changed.
When she was finished high school, she planned on being a nurse. She would have been an excellent nurse. She's smart as a whip, and she's calm, cool, and collected. Three days into her first year of school, her father had a stroke. She came home to take care of him, he being a widower (he had about four wives, and that's another interesting story). The only remnant of her education is the books she purchased for her classes, which she keeps in a box. When she got home, my uncle decided he'd better take the opportunity given to him, and propose to her. They were married in 1968, both 19 years old.
Giving up that nursing opportunity did not prevent my aunt from having an active life of the mind. In addition to knowing how to run a business, keep a home, grow vegetables, cook, make furniture, build things, she also pursued reading and learning. She has never had a professional designation, nor an academic degree. But her example as a wife and mother for the past 44 years, and her own pursuit of feeding her mind within the four walls of her home has been one of the most encouraging examples to me. She knows so much about so many things, and she knows how to do so many different things. I have borrowed from her example, and always tried to learn how to do a lot of different things.
In a day and age when women are pursuing advanced degress at rates greater than men, it may be tempting for a young woman to think that without one, she cannot pursue an active life of the mind. It's not true. One thing I have seen about watching my daughter pursue advanced degrees, is that the focus is very narrow. As she gets into her doctoral studies, her focus will narrow even more. That doesn't always leave a lot of time for pursuing other interests. That's a choice we all make. By their very nature, choices for something involve a choice to not do something else. If a woman has a hungry mind, she can feed it without going to school. I have learned more since graduating university (which, by the way, took me 16 years to do) than I did while I was there. I learned to learn; that's the best lesson. Personally, I love it when I meet another mother who is like me: unaccomplished in matters of business and academia, but hungry to learn.
My aunt encouraged me in example and in word. I know it was a huge change in her life when she had to leave nursing school, but I'm thankful she did, because I have been the better for being able to learn from her.