2020 has been a tough year by anyone’s standards but receiving a text Friday night from my youngest son with the shocking news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death hit me like a sledgehammer. I remember the feeling of elation when she was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1993, but I was woefully ignorant of her life up to that point. Through Justice Ginsburg’s years on the bench she has been an international pop culture icon and I have learned more about her history and her path to the Supreme Court. As a woman, I owe her an immense debt of gratitude. Because of her I can get a credit card in my name, buy property in my name and consent to my own medical treatment.
When Mr. Smith and I woke up the next morning, the weather was cool, crisp and sunny, but we still felt under a cloud of sadness from the loss. In hopes of shaking off some of our blues, we decided to mask up and head down I-80 for the first visit in months with our youngest granddaughter, Eleanor, and her parents. On the way there, we had a chilly picnic lunch at a rest area along the highway. Luckily, we found a table in the sun and munched on our turkey and provolone sandwich and watermelon bites before heading down the road to State College. Once we arrived, we grabbed our son and granddaughter and headed out for a therapeutic walk at Fisherman’s Paradise on the east bank of Spring Creek in Centre County, Pennsylvania. We walked the easy and scenic trail along the creek encountering many fishermen along the path. Eleanor had a fine time, eventually wearing out and giving in to a ride on her dad’s shoulders. Lulled by the rhythm of his walking, she put her head down and fell asleep, so we headed back to the car and Eleanor’s house. We dined on a tasty dinner prepared by Eleanor’s mom of kimchi-tofu stew and delicious homemade dumplings, a specialty of Hsin Yi’s. After our post-dinner cup of tea, having soaked up the comfort of family and nature, it was time to say goodbye.
A few weeks ago, I was tickled when my oldest granddaughter mentioned she had gotten into reading biographies. Olivia is nine, the same age I was when I went through a biography stage. Mr. Smith and I had recently watched the movie Harriet, so I asked Olivia if she would like a biography of Harriet Tubman. Olivia is very polite and said yes but shared that she was really interested in Helen Keller. I was a grandma on a mission. I sent her three biographies – Helen Keller, Harriet Tubman, and RBG! I received a message from Olivia Friday night telling me she was sorry Ruth Bader Ginsberg had died. I told her RBG was a great woman and that I had a feeling she was going to be a great woman too. Then I told her to read the biography and she assured me, “I already did Grandma.”
When I was nine years old, very few of the biographies on the shelf of our little library were about women. Great women have been around as long a great men but sadly most have remained “hidden figures”. I am beyond delighted that my grandchildren are growing up in a time when women’s contributions are finally getting some recognition. It gives me a glimmer of hope for the future of our country. It’s also time for we moms, grandmothers, aunties and friends to help provide books and stories to our girls to inspire them with positive, strong, independent role models so they are able to imagine their futures with a panoramic view. And perhaps in this tumultuous and scary time when women are the majority of the population, as the notorious RGB once said, it’s time for nine good women to sit on the Supreme Court. Just a thought…
C’est la vie.
Nice post! Those were great choices to send to your granddaughter. I remember reading a biography of Sacajawea to my children when they were about the same age as your granddaughter. They loved it! I don’t know that I agree about the 9 women on the court (even though RBG said it) because I don’t think one’s sex should be the main qualifier for either sex. Rather one’s qualifications should make this determination. However, statistically, it seems women should make up about 1/2 the court, but again not determined by a quota. I really like her quote about fighting for what you believe in but doing it in a way where others want to join you. Thanks for another interesting and uplifting post, and enjoy your day!!
Thanks, Betty. Sacajawea was amazing, I doubt I could have done what she did. I’ll put her biography on the list for my granddaughter.
With regard to nine women on the Supreme Court, I think Justice Ginsberg was trying to make a point. Most people thought nothing of the court being made up of all men, why should they object to all women? But I agree, each should be judged on their merits. I loved what Bill Clinton said about her, “…SHe had the uncanny ability to be very much in the weeds, if you will, of the intellectual legal arguments and yet never lost sight of the human impact of her decisions…”
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