There are many of you, women, who have made an impact on my life. On this beautiful International Women's Day, I want to thank you for shaping me into the women that I am today.
To my Grammy, you have shown me what true love and acceptance is. You instilled in your children a love that never quits, never dies, and can survive anything. In them, you ingrained that there is never anything your loved one can do to cause you to abandon them. Because of your lessons and leading by your own example, you have passed that on to me. I was raised with the same ideals and am incredibly grateful for that. You, Grammy, have created a family that is a symbol of acceptance and enduring love.
To Grandmother. I got to be your instant grandchild and you, of course, welcomed me with open arms. I was spoiled with ski trips and American Girl dolls galore, but I was also spoiled with love from you. There is much that you have done in your life that I admire greatly. Putting yourself through college, having a career and being a mother to my dad at the same time, taking care of your parents, and so much more. I am so humbled to be your granddaughter, thank you for everything.
To my Aunts, Aunt Shannon, Aunt Molly, Aunt Emily, where to even begin?
Aunt Shannon, you were always my go to when things became too difficult. When I was an angsty teenager who constantly fought with her mom, you showed me her side, explained to me her reasoning, and helped me to understand why I was in the wrong. Luckily for you, I came to you for help with things I was scared to approach my mom for (which is great, but silly because my mom is awesome and probably wouldn't have been upset about) and encouraged me to talk to my mom because she is honestly the best. You were the first woman to discuss politics with me like an adult. Actually, you always treated me like an adult, and when I was ready for my first march you were a part of it.
Aunt Molly, growing up you were like my in-house big sister. You introduced me to Green Day and still give me the coolest Green Day-inspired gifts. You always supported my love of music, going so far as to winning tickets to concerts and events from our favorite radio station and giving them to me. You have shown me what hard work and perseverance are. I have never met anyone who works as hard as you to do to be the best mom, spouse, and loved one.
Aunt Emily, you are such a badass. You brought the LGBTQ world into my life and inspired my activism side. I didn't know I could be passionate about anything other than ballet until I became passionate for you and later Aunt Molly's rights. A love for the Texas Rangers and a heart bigger than both of their World Series losses, you became my inspiration to be whoever I wanted to be. To all three of you, you were the first feminists in my life. I had no idea what the word meant until I was older, but I did realize that I had grown up with it's ideals ingrained in me from the time I was born. So thank you, because I couldn't be a strong, independent woman without you!
To my mom,
Wow. You literally created me and carried me for nine months so what could I possibly say that would capture everything that you have done to shape me?
You are the epitome of strong. You had me so young and when I think of where you were at 21, I can't imagine it. To have me, a little hellion, and to be working full time? Incredible. Then you fell in love with my dad. A love so strong that my expectations for a relationship were ridiculously high.
High school was really difficult for both of us. I became a hellion again, I wanted to dance professionally, I was a hot mess of a human. I know that I was difficult, but you loved me through some of the toughest times of my life.
Then came my illness. I had been around your illness since I was in the sixth grade, so the way you handled something so devastating inspired me. My mantra became "If my mom can do it, then so can I". You showed me what a warrior was.
College. I have no idea how you left me at the dorms 3 years ago. I was so sick, I really shouldn't have been at school, but you trusted me and let me follow my dreams. Hundreds of late night calls, a few ER, trips, several mental break downs, and numerous doctors appointments, have followed since then, and I know I wouldn't be at OU still without your support.
Mom, you are my biggest inspiration. Your kindness to others inspired my love of service, your struggle with health inspired me to enter the medical field, and your whole adult life has shaped me into the woman that I am today. I couldn't be more proud to be your daughter, to be the product of your parenting. Every day I count the blessing of you being my mom. Now that I am older you have grown to be both my mom and my friend. Talking to you is always my first thought, whether it's the 98 on an exam or because I need to vent or because I just need you. You have pushed me to be the best version of myself and helped me follow my dreams. (All 5 million of them). I wouldn't be me if it weren't for you, literally. So Mom, thank you. Thank you for being a passionate, caring, feminist, brilliant, creative, encouraging, loving, open-minded, and beautiful human being. Thank you, for being my mom.
There is a lot more that I need to say, but words are just not enough. Each one of you women has shaped my personality and my journey in life. I am lucky to be related to you. I wish I could say each and every way that you have made me who I am, but this letter would become an acclaimed literary work if I did that. Just know that I love you, and on this International Women's Day, you are the women that I celebrate.