Appreciating the right to vote

Margretta was a strong, independent woman in an age when that when that was a rarity. When she received a small inheritance, she used it to attend Cornell University. Her father, a farmer and church elder, stood up in a grange meeting and announced to all how embarrassed he was to have a daughter who was going to college.

In college, she met other independent women, and marched with them for women’s suffrage. When the Great War broke out, the men were leaving school. Either they enlisted, or went home to their family farms to grow food for the nation. 

Margretta didn’t see why the women shouldn’t do that too. The skeptical dean asked her what she could do. “I could raise chickens,” she replied. And she did. While back on the farm, she met Thomas. One day he offered her a ring. It was just a small diamond, in a simple setting. But Margretta knew that it called for a big decision. Did she really want to marry, and raise her own farm family?  But the alternative was to be a spinster, who had no family or farm of her own. She accepted Thomas’ proposal.

Margretta and Thomas had two sons and a daughter named Kate. Kate also went to college, and then got a master’s degree in home economics. Kate and her husband raised five children on a dairy farm. They also took care of the now widowed Margretta, who lived in a small house on the same farm.

Margretta passed away in her 90s. Her ring was put in the safety deposit box for her grandson Will to give to his future bride. The ring sat in the darkness, the diamond not glinting in the light for many years.

One Thanksgiving, Will’s sister Anna brought home a graduate school friend. I was that friend. Will and I hit it off and were soon spending most of our free time together. The following March, Will proposed and I accepted.

Twenty-three years later, I still wear Margretta’s diamond. In fact, I had it on today when I cast my mail-in ballot for the presidential election. Margretta’s diamond winked at me as I completed my ballot. I thought of her, and all the other strong women who had fought, just so that women might be able to vote. “This one’s for you, Margretta!”

– Adrienne Lloyd, Bay Village

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Volume 8, Issue 21, Posted 10:00 AM, 11.01.2016