For all the women I have loved

by Elouise

During the last few months I’ve been going through old teaching and administrative files, carbon copies of reference letters I wrote decades ago, boxes of notes and cards you sent to me, and old directories with head shots of students, faculty, and church members. More than once I’ve been reduced to tears.

Several years ago I made a list of women whose lives made a difference in my life. It was so long I had to stop.

This is ironic, since most of my life I’ve been beholden to men. They were or might one day become my gatekeepers. It was important to treat them well and with due deference. Most were white. A precious few were interested in my future instead of their own and how I would help them get there.

Yet I was born into and grew up surrounded by women who cared for me no matter what. They didn’t all have motherly skills, but each had something to give me. Something to pass along that would help me grow—if I could only relax into the role of learner.

Today’s post is for all the women who were and are my shining stars —

  • my sisters, daughter, daughter-in-law, granddaughters
  • my mother, cousins, aunts, grandmothers and great-grandmother
  • classmates, playmates, teachers and faculty colleagues
  • committee members, informal kitchen cabinet members
  • therapists, doctors, nurses and external consultants
  • accomplices in strategic disobedience and brilliant projects
  • pastors, church friends, workplace mentors, friendly enemies
  • puzzling combatants, bright stars, struggling survivors
  • angry recipients of insults and injury
  • new mothers fighting isolation and depression
  • aspiring preachers and teachers finding strong voices
  • devastated applicants turned away due to marital status or fear
  • determined women moving ahead against all odds
  • heartbroken wives whose husbands just walked out the door
  • heartbroken mothers who just lost a child or baby or husband
  • tearful survivors of trauma in need of help
  • closeted lovers of women not sure where to turn for help
  • gifted women passed by in favor of an average male applicant
  • poets, writers, musicians, preachers and teachers
  • drama queens, dreamers and world-changers

Like a galaxy of stars, you are brilliant in my life. Scarcely a day goes by without one of you showing up in my heart. I’m so glad I kept all those notes, cards and sometimes silly photos. Reminders that the history we made, no matter how small it seems today, still matters.

With respect, love and prayers for history-making women everywhere,

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 March 2018
Photo found at