International Women’s Day

For International Women’s Day it seems fitting for me to celebrate my two grandmothers. Both faced steep challenges with grace and courage.

My grandmother with my father as an infant on her lapAnna Ayers Williams, my dad’s mother, was a suffragette in the early 1900s who worked for a time at Hull House in Chicago. She married a widower nearly twice her age, who had come to this country as a young coal miner from Wales and eventually became a Baptist minister in small Midwestern towns. He died when my father was six. She became a teacher in one-room schools in small Iowa towns where she and my father often lived with the families of her students.

She lived with us before her death when I was six and taught me to read, among many other things. I was named for her.

Eva Graham Law, Esther Law Williams, and Anne Williams c. 1975

 

Eva Graham Law was my mother’s mother. She too was widowed at a young age when her husband fell from the roof of a barn in Nebraska that he was helping a neighbor build. She had children aged one, three (my mother), five, and seven. To support her family she moved home to Des Moines where she ran a boarding house while working full-time as a clerk in a title company. She too lived with us for many years after she retired.

Both of my grandmother’s always managed to find enough money to help the “poor”.