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