At the close of this International Women's Day, I wanted to write about several women who have had an impact on my life. This is meant to be a representative list of the women who have courageously stood up, spoken out, led the way, encouraged the downtrodden, molded the lives of the young, and loved unconditionally. Thank you is not nearly enough.
1. Bertha Shivers Rosell is my paternal great grandmother. She lived much of her young adult life in Texas around the turn of the 20th century. When my grandfather was a young boy, her husband left her and disappeared from view. She continued on with courage and faith. Through the hard scrapple times of the 10s and 20s in rural Texas, she raised a young boy into a man on her own. Her devotion, faith, love, and toughness left a legacy that lives on in the lives of many members of my family and beyond.
2. Verlee Ethel Fones Walters is my maternal grandmother. She was the matriarch of my family for decades. Auntie Bee, as my cousins called her, was the picture of a beautiful soul. Her house, like her heart, was always open. Anyone was welcome to come in, pull up a chair, have a bite to eat, and share life. She gave and gave of herself because that is what it meant to be a human and to be a person of faith. I learned about loving others, being true to self, commitment to family, and putting faith into action eating at her dinner table and sitting on her davenport.
3. Joy Ann Walters Shivers is my mother. I could not imagine having a better example of what it means to parent than my mom. I cannot even begin to list all of the things that I have learned from this incredible woman. However, among them are love, compassion, commitment, kindness, friendship, care, and tenderness. I am richly blessed by the presence of this amazing woman in my life.
4. Jennifer Ellen Austin Shivers is the woman to whom I have been married for over 25 years. She is my best friend and truly the love of my life. She believes in me even when I do not believe in myself. She loves me even when I am not all that lovable. She is my teacher, my confidant, my lover, my inspiration. She is a woman of strength, wisdom, intelligence, and joy. She makes me laugh and keeps me centered. I am so blessed to grow with her and learn more about who she is and who we are together everyday.
5. Allison Taylor Shivers is my daughter. She is the most courageous person I have ever met. Daily, she teaches me about what is important in life. She loves in excess. She is full of hope. She possesses a contageous exhuberance about life. She prays with a sense of certainty that helps me understand what it means to be a person of faith. I am humbled that this young woman calls me "Daddy."
These are only five of the countless women I wish I could honor on this day. I would love to write about my lunch with two sisters who I have known for 20 years who love one another with a depth that can be felt. Or the college student who longs for the stories of life and faith to be told for generations to come. Or the high school senior who humbly and courageously has faced more in twelve months than most people do in a lifetime. The list could go on and on.
May today, International Women's Day, be a reminder to us all that we should be thankful for the incredible women in our lives everyday.