Working Women

This is my grandma. She was a janitor for a building in midtown, a proud 32 B/J union member, a single mom, and a survivor of domestic violence. The only day she called in sick to work was the day my sister Kathy graduated from NYU because she was the first in our family to do so.

My mother worked as a bank teller, as a cashier, in my sister’s bakery, all while raising 6 children and a grandchild. I don’t remember her ever sitting down when I was a child.

My eldest sister was the first professional woman I knew. She used to come home and hang her dry cleaning in the front hall, and those clothes always seemed to me like a passport out of the shitty part-time jobs the women in my family often had. She has supported nearly every single member of my family financially at one time or another.

My second sister owned her own bakery – working there was my part time job through high school and into college – and went on to get numerous degrees and just returned, at 53, to law school. She raised three kids solo, and now she specializes in disability rights.

My first jobs were babysitting, a newspaper route – I was one of only two girls who delivered papers, a baker’s assistant, a video store clerk, a writing tutor, a canvasser for environmental/consumer legislation, an admin, and now, an educator.

We have never been paid a dollar for a dollar’s work. 

To the working class women in my family, and in my world: thank you.




2 Replies to “Working Women”

  1. my mom worked because she had no choice married at 18 in 1941, she had two girls right away and after a few years her lying cheating alcoholic husband divorced her so he could be with someone else. In those days, most women didn’t work and being divorced with kids was akin to a scarlet letter in some places. she got a job working for a architect/engineer that immigrated from Cuba and learned the building trade and zoning law. later she worked for a lawyer in real estate law and then started her own company doing paralegal and expediting work. later she met my father who was nothing like my sisters dad and had two more kids while approaching 40. she was one of the most self reliant women I have known. she could can/jar food, clam, fish and was a was a pretty good shot too. she never ran from a challenge. she’s been gone 21 years this easter and I still miss her terribly. here’s to you Flo, a working woman and mother.

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