Stronger than stones; Reflecting on women’s leadership in credit unions

My grandmother was not only one of my biggest mentors and supporters in life, but she was also a historian and a genealogist. During Women’s History Month I often find myself thinking about her and how she influenced my life. She was a quiet feminist. There was rarely a time until she was struggling with her health into her 90s when she wasn’t smiling. She lived all of her life in rural Michigan on a farm during a time when it was absolutely the norm to care for aging loved ones while raising your own children, which she did. She rarely spoke to me about the differences between men and women. She didn’t often point to the challenges that I might face as a woman. What she did was provide all the support she could. She frequently told me that the women in our family were born with “stones in the base of our spines.” This was her message of quiet strength that to this day I remember when times are tough.

My grandma created a foundation of possibilities for me through unconditional love and support. She opened her home to my parents when they were first pregnant with me so that they could move back to their hometown to raise me near family. She gifted my parents land and a farmhouse that they repaired and made into my childhood home. She opened her home to my cousin and me so that we could grow close and develop a lifelong sister-like bond. She introduced me to the piano, to the library, and to M & Ms. She picked me up at school countless afternoons once my mom went back to teaching. She attended every single piano and violin recital, track meet and tennis match and often attended my lessons as well. She took me on road trips to spend time with more distant relatives and to research our family history in libraries and cemeteries.

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