We always observed Groundhog Day growing up. It was my paternal grandmother’s birthday.
I was thinking of my grandmother today. Between the holiday, and a recent spate of Amazon TV — Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman — she came to mind again.
Dr. Quinn is a fun show with message fiction about a female doctor making her way in the Colorado Territory after the Civil War. Episode Three has Dr. Quinn’s mother visit from Boston. During the episode they have a lot of strife between the mother’s proper matron view, and the more equality driven view of Dr. Quinn.
But there is a scene in there where it talks about something that the mother always felt locked into what was expected. And then the episode ends with the Mother giving Dr. Quinn the money she needs to purchase her clinic in Colorado.
It also made me think of my grandmother. She was the family matron; she was a school teacher. Her one line about her life, and the current day (this was the late 20th century), was that if she had had the opportunities women had now, she might have chosen to be something other than a teacher.
She was a very good teacher, when teaching was one of the few professions open to women. And she never regretted the choices she had, or the life she led. But she also realized the progress made in opportunities for women.
So today on her birthday, when the groundhog saw his shadow to predict six more weeks of winter, I think of a woman born in a snowstorm in the late 19th century, and of the progress made since then, and wonder if we have really learned the lessons of that progress.
She didn’t look down on the people and times that kept her in the teaching profession; while enjoying the greater freedoms that time and technology offered for her and her daughters and sons — and their daughters and sons.
There is a movie about groundhog day where time keeps repeating itself. If we don’t learn the lessons of our progress, we will repeat the the same mistakes of the past (instead of making our own mistakes) in the name of progress.
So look forward to the future, and honor the past, the memories of those who lived the lives that have given us ours.