Owning our own history

“Never be discouraged from being an activist because people tell you that you’ll not succeed. You have already succeeded if you’re out there representing truth or justice or compassion or fairness or love.”  Doris “Granny D” Haddock

Granny D (Doris Haddock) has no doubt been mentioned and Googled many times in March, Women’s History Month. After all, it isn’t just anyone who walks 3,200 miles across America to promote campaign finance reform — and turns 90 while doing it!

Politics aside, however, I found Granny D most interesting as a model of older womanhood. When I was blessed to be able to interview her as she passed through West Virginia on the last leg of her journey to Washington, D.C., I couldn’t help but be impressed.

She had logged her daily 10 miles, no easy feat for anyone given the Mountain State’s rugged terrain. Yet, there she sat in our newspaper office, drinking a bottle of water, glowing with exertion and making a razor-sharp case for her cause. Buff beyond imagination, she joked about having just turned down an endorsement offer from Nike. Finance reform, people!

I’ve thought of her often in the last couple of decades, as I’ve moved from young adulthood to mid-life. Granny D is partly a historic woman because she was entirely comfortable with her own history. Comfortable in her own silvery gray hair and her own time-weathered skin. Comfortable with her roles as “old woman,” wife, widow, mother, grandmother, Christian, activist, role model.

It all blended together in a stunningly beautiful way. Look at any of the pictures of her with her decades-younger support team. Look at their faces. There’s no ageism there. No sexism. Just pure admiration.

If I’m blessed to grow as old in years as Granny D (she died in 2010 at the age of 100), I hope to grow old like she did. Full of fire, full of life and love and sheer moxie. Taking my small place in history and making the best of it, step by step by courageous step.

3 thoughts on “Owning our own history”

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