Pioneer Moms

Since it was International Women's Day on Saturday, I started thinking about the women in my life, especially my mother and mother-in-law. Both women emigrated from Europe in the early 50's, completely unprepared for their new lives.
I used to think of those young wives as brave because they left their native countries but for most of them it didn't take bravery at all, just a mad faith in one's ability and immortality; hadn't they survived the war?
The bravery comes after; the brave act was in the staying. Both these women, by the time the 50's rolled around, had been living in modern homes with running water, flush toilets and electricity. There were buses and trains for everyday travel. There were surfaced streets. There were a lot of people around and those people were all close together.
The brave act lay in the fact that those two women and countless others did not run screaming into the night. The brave act was, after shedding the tears or even while shedding them, they carried on. My mother-in-law was a city girl and while she told a funny story, it could not possibly have been fun to arrive in a Western town and sink past the entire suede high heeled shoe, right up to the ankles in mud. From cobbles to mud. From brick to log home. She became a pioneer without in the least expecting it.
Halifax, Immigration entry
My mother had a bit of respite and started her new life in a city but that lasted not even a year and then she, too, began pioneering. Wood stoves, no bathrooms, no potable water.
Their big advantage was their youth. They were both too young to have accumulated many worldly goods, they were healthy, they were resilient with youth's elasticity. There was always tomorrow and there were enough tomorrows for them to be able to make something of themselves. Lucky youth!
Not so lucky for the people our age, the ones who at 60 had lost everything and had to move to a new country. I cannot imagine how hard that must have been, is still being for so many. No, I do not know how you feel; I just know that I am probably not grateful enough for my untumultuous life. The next time a bus is late, I promise to be happy that there is a bus at all!

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