Tuesday night (June 7, 2016) Hillary Clinton accepted the nomination as the "presumptive" Democratic nominee for President of the United States. I watched it with my mother, Karen, a woman who voted first in the 1965 election, just missing the chance in 1961 to vote for the first Catholic President, JFK. Mom has lived through some of the most tumultuous times in this country, through decades of the most significant shifts in society, politics and mores.
Mom and I were comfortably perched next to each other on the sofa so I could feel the gentle movement of my mother's sobbing. I turned my head to see tears streaming down her face while her smile grew into a contained laugh. She had waited decades for this moment. We hugged.
This moment was about Hillary, but not about Hillary. It was about finally seeing a person of great competence being recognized for her capabilities to hold the highest office, not about gender. We both support Hillary, but it was deeper than that.
Both of us were touched when Hillary shared the story of her mother, who was born on the very day--June 4, 1919--that women earned the right to vote, How she wished her mother had lived to see this day.
My mother understands this moment more than anyone I know. Over the years she has had to fight the early programming of what women could and couldn't aspire to; battled masked barbs in business; proposing innovative ideas that were not heard until co-opted by a male colleague and praised as brilliant; and creatively juggling career, family, and hosting a local TV show in Detroit, done out of pure commitment to telling the "Good Story."
I see what the generation before me have done, and I ache when I women my age or younger say they don't "believe" in the women's movement. It is curious that they have all the professional options before them and fail to realize that they would not be offered such opportunities without the Hillarys, the Ruth Ginsburgs, the Oprahs, my mom, my mom's friends, and the Dorothy Rodhams.
So this column is more about gratitude than politics. I would like to say thank you to all the women who came before me and persevered in small ways to make possible my career path. I served in the CIA and then made the decision to become ordained clergy, neither option that were even on my mother's radar screen growing up. These women exhibited courage to do what hadn't been done, often unrecognized for what they were: turning point in the progress of women moving forward. Thank you Hillary. Thank you Mom.