My mother is a small dark complexioned woman who grew up in the Great Depression. I have always admired my mother but only in the last few years have I realized how remarkable she is and how much I love her. She was raised in a small poor town near Buffalo. She was part of a large extended family. When I visited her and my sister for the holidays, one of the presents my sister requested was a copy of the movie The Help.
Viola Davis, who portrayed a maid in the movie was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance. She was inspired by her mother who used to be a maid and assisted in raising white children. In the "Upper South", as we call the North, my mother was a nurse. She worked in nursing homes, a cancer treatment center and a county hospital. My mother is enjoying a well earned retirement and is part of my older sister's support system.
She also set up several different small businesses. But my point in writing this is that my mother taught me that we were born to work and by working we could take care of ourselves and our families. I can bet you that nursing was not glamorous but my mother did it with pride. She helped her younger sister get into the field, as well. The fact is, my my mother was her family's nurse, to her mother, her sisters and brothers and to her children. In November, she may be driving you or your family to the polls because she most definitely believed in voting.
My mother was not The Help. But something different. She inspired, cared, crafted, and saw patients recover. She has lived long enough to see her children attend college and even took some courses herself. But we may never see movies portraying the struggle of African-American nurses from the 50's to the 90's. Hollywood has not decided our stories are marketable. However we can relive those stories everyday as we teach our children, nephews, nieces and on down the line the importance of work.
For those whose parents were maids or other types of domestic workers, I say, hold your heads up high. We all stand upon the shoulders of those who came before us. To me, it's no coincidence that I have always entered helping professions. I do not call myself The Help but I am a helper and it's probably because my mother helped so many before me.