A Woman of Distinction

It’s March, which is both the month of my birth and Women’s History Month. Both of those things mean there’s something worth celebrating. But it occurred to me, as I was reading different things about women who have done this or that—made a name for themselves, become known for their work to help others—and even occasionally forwarding these stories on, that I had neglected to acknowledge one of the women in my own life who has been a source of inspiration as long as I’ve known her.

There are many women in my life, all of them worth talking about. My mother has been a source of help and strength more than I can explain. My sister has always been an example of determination and drive, especially in the arenas of education and career. I’ve had many female friends, coworkers, and cohorts over the years who have taught me lessons about love, loyalty, and sacrifice.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to talk about someone I love who has been a supporter, friend, and teacher for as long as I can remember knowing her, which at this point has been over half my life: my girlfriend, Heather.

She’s been through more difficulty and abuse at the hands of life than I’m at liberty to relate, and has worked through tremendously difficulty with her own two hands. Despite situations that could easily have driven some people to disaster, she stuck it out, and through grit and determination has pulled herself through countless trials. She’s lived all over the place, had all kinds of different jobs, and her life experience is just fascinating to listen to, especially since it’s often the antithesis of my own. I was lucky in many ways that she was not, and her trials have oftentimes made her a better person than I am.

This life experience eventually led her to follow in her own mother’s footsteps. She’s now a schoolteacher, and the gift of self-motivation and stubbornness in the face of opposition has made her a fantastic one. Every day she works for her kids, and she’s filled with stories about them when she comes home. I know many of them by name just from how much she talks about them. She worries about them when things are going wrong, swells with pride and sympathetic joy when she sees them succeed. Even in a classroom environment that’s woefully inadequate, with a difficult student body and an underfunded, overwhelmed, sometimes mis-employed staff, she still manages to teach those kids not only about history, but about life. And I am immensely proud of her for that, every single day.

So while many women have done many amazing things worth remembering this month, I want to make sure I remember the one that’s closest to me, and share a little glimpse of that with you all. She’s not just a great teacher, she’s a great human being, and one of the kindest and most empathetic people I know, with a big and beautiful heart that feels for all people (and animals too). Hats off to you, my dear; you’re worth so much more than you know. I love you, and I hope you’ll remember your worth this month as much as I do every other.

And if any of the rest of you know a teacher out there, working their butts off to better the lives of the kids they teach, make sure to take the time to let them know how much you appreciate them. (And while this month you might focus on the women, don’t forget to include everyone the rest of the year!)

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