She danced and did choric reading competitively. She went to college where she ran ramshod over household and school rules in a ruinous and hysterical effort to go to every dance and party in the school. She taught English and History and passion. She ran the teacher’s union and the library board with a very delicately gloved fist. She married my father at 38, both of the the only left over singles in their social circle, after the war. All of that she did with courage, power, ability and steel will.
Not a lady. Not exactly.
She also, in the manner of most people at the time, drank gin like a fish. There was a ceremonious moment once a year when we walked the vermouth bottle by the gin making all gin a martini.
Margaret’s whole social world was female. It was the society of other teachers, librarians, and educated women. My father watched it all swirl around it and headed for his hiding place in the basement.
They were formidable Whenever they were against anything they all got together, arrived in their black dresses and pearls to stare against the town council until the council backed up. Since these women were their first, second, third, fourth and fifth grade teachers, you can imagine how these men felt. It had to be like 70 years in the principal’s office. They were never victims. They weren’t ladies. They fought like women. The council never had a chance.
I see my mother in the lady bugs. “I’m a lady. Never mind that I’m a fierce predator of all aphids and don’t try to stop me.” It’s actually a disguise. She wore it well. I find myself peaking out behind it every so often, too.
So often we forget the power of women who know what is right and make their stand. Like the ladybugs, they protect their own, fight their battles. Aren’t exactly ladies. And to whom does that matter?