Yes, we must honor Molly Pitcher, Dolly Madison, Florence Nightingale and hundreds of other recognizable names in the pantheon of great women — but remember, our mothers, grandmothers and greatgrandmothers it was who sold bread and pies from their kitchens when hard times came, and raised chickens in the back yard, chickens they preserved in jars for future need, along with applesauce and peaches and pears and corn and anything that would stand still long enough to be squeezed into a Mason jar. At the end of the summer they had cysts on their wrists the size of jaw breakers; and when their husbands died, they went to work to provide for the children. They sewed and knitted and crocheted and quilted and gathered up whatever little could be spared to send to foreign missions.
They toiled to raise money for a new altar cloth or uniforms for the school band; and found a dime in the pocket of their old brown coat for the collection plate or the milk fund.
They saw each other through pneumonia and the deaths of children, through frugal weddings and difficult births. They, as much as Marie Curie and Amelia Bloomer, kept humanity alive in the small circle where their light fell. I try to honor them in my books.