To The Women:
You are my nan, in her rocking chair, drinking tea, reading books, chuckling;
You are my mum, who can’t stay in the same one place for long, and always sees the best in people;
You are my English teacher with her love of words, excitement for the story, loopy handwriting;
You are the child who asks her fallen, crying friend if she’s ok, who offers up her sweets and hugs and smiles;
You are the teenage girl who takes an hour too long to do her paper round because she stops to chat with all the lonely older folk who take the news and her companionship as Sunday morning gifts on their doorstep, then goes home to her revision for a mock exam next week;
You are Victoria Wood, with stories in music and laughter in song;
You are my angry friend who rants about the unfairness and inequality of the world and how we can, we all can, try to put it right, a little at a time;
You are my mother-in-law who writes a diary every day and always knows what happened and what’s happening, in perfect grammar with a glass of red on Saturdays;
You are the charity CEO who woke up after tragedy and told herself, the next day, “This is what I’ll do to make a difference”, and then did;
You are the woman in my village who can run a hundred miles and get others to run just three to help someone who can’t walk one;
You are the woman with MS who only sees that life is good and tells me all the time it can be overcome, and smiles while picking up her crutches, passing scones around the group and raising funds;
You are the head of faculty who marks her books in neat, pink script and always looks immaculate, and fosters kids, who never sleeps but always smiles;
You are the tired midwife who bakes cakes and walks the dog before she goes to bed to dream about her nightshift when she stared into the face of life, and death;
You are the childminder who, surrounded by detritus and the noise of children playing, laughing, banging spoons on pans, can smile hello and put the kettle on and ask about my day;
You are the mum who leaves work late and takes a tin of paint to her child’s wall because he wants it blue and, well, she’ll sleep tomorrow, right?
You are the school counsellor who lights her candles, takes a breath and passes on a tissue to the child or teacher sobbing on her beanbags, the fifth one today;
You are the busy grandmother who works from home on Fridays juggling laptop and CBeebies and sneaks cuddles with her grandson in the afternoon while emailing her staff the next week’s brief;
You are the struggling student who breaks down at 3am but makes another coffee and keeps typing her assignment, due in two days’ time, because she’s wanted this, she’s worked for this, and holds her future in her hands tonight.
You are these women who walk into my life, before me and beside me,
Leaving drops of wonder and pulling me into your wake;
Lighting fires, igniting candles,
Spreading light and love and never knowing where it goes.
Women of my past, my present, women of my life – I salute you.