Friday, February 06, 2009
In Remembrance, Inspiration
I spent my childhood in isolated places – and my early teens in what used to be called 'under-privileged' neighbourhoods. Raised a feminist, l was told often by my parents that I could achieve anything.It was all very well in theory – and in pop culture: Girls Can Do Anything was on bumper stickers everywhere then – but it was bloody hard to find young female role models to assure me it was true. I did have one. The daughter of close friends of my parents, she was older than me so I knew of her rather than really knowing her. Nevertheless, I followed her life. Before I finished primary school, she won a Rhodes Scholarship. I didn't even know women were eligible, maybe because, in Australia, the women awarded it were very few. She left to study at Oxford University, where she attained all that was expected of her – and more. Later, her achievements in a profession dominated by men proved, once and for all, that everything I'd been told was possible. It buoyed my own ambitions and narrowed my focus. She was, in every sense, an inspiration.I attended her funeral yesterday. She died just last week, still very young, after a long, painful illness. And yet even her passing inspired me – to be more aware of the brevity and fragility of life. It also reinforced my resolve to live my life fully, with courage and boldness and above all else, joy.