March is Women's History Month.
However, I believe Women's History Month shouldn't be just about the women making history but also the history of women who have shaped our lives in other ways.
One woman whose history I think about quite a lot is my great-great-grandmother Ruby Lovelace Childress. Born on July 21, 1884 (a week before my own birthday), Ruby was the ninth child of Virgil and Mary Lovelace. By this point, her mother had already buried five of the nine children born to her.
Ruby was born in to a family with options and resources. You see the Lovelace's were upperclass people, as evidenced by this photograph.
I'm guessing most girls her age couldn't afford fancy white dresses and parasols - much less photographers to take pictures of them in such finery.
The family lore goes Ruby married "down" when she married my great-great-grandfather Dellon Gold Childress. He was a "dirt farmer" where she was used to music lessons and fine china.
Despite the different economic situations her mother and Ruby found themselves in upon marriage, one thing was the same thing. There lives were immediately taken over with the task of reproduction. Beginning in 1903, Ruby began having basically a baby a year until 1907. She had a small respite (and I'm assuming a miscarriage) before picking back up in 1911. Two years later, she had my great-grandmother Gertrude.
By the next year - ten days before her 30th birthday - she was dead. She died of ectopic pregnancy.
There are so many women in my family. Long-living women who raised children, ran businesses,
However, Ruby and the absence her death left has also fascinated me.
The women on my mother's side of the family are not particularly nurturing women. Kind? Yes. Involved? Yes. Quick with the hugs and kisses? No. The theory goes that my great-grandmother was only a baby when her mother died and although the stepmother who came soon after loved her, she was never nurturing in the way Ruby would have been. Therefore, my great-grandmother was the same to her children and so on and so forth.
I think about what her death meant and if the impact was so far-reaching. I think about what I might have shared with Ruby - a passion for learning or a love for music. I wonder how my life would have been different had I had no choice in my reproductive future. I wonder if Ruby was frustrated or scared.
Mainly, I wish she'd had a chance to write her own history and that there had been more of it.
~ Sarah Stewart Holland