WHAT CAN A GIRL DO?
What a year it was for Arley—with a baby daughter born in its beginning days and his only granddaughter born in its final days! Here he’s showing off little Patsy to her Aunt Sally. Just 11 months apart in age, this granddaughter and daughter both came to believe that girls could do anything and lived that out, although along very different paths. Arley had a much more limited view of what women could do. He usually took along a grandson when he went fishing—not his daughter or granddaughter.
On this very day, I’ve just watched the inauguration of a new President and Vice President of the United States—and seen much to celebrate about what women can do. Justice Sonia Sotomayer (one of only five women and the first Latina to serve on the United States Supreme Court) administered the oath of office to Vice President Kamala Harris (the first female, first Black, and first Asian American ever to serve as Vice President). To me, the most powerful voice there today was that of 22-year-old African American Inaugural Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman reading her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”
Pat (she mostly outgrew her early nickname of Patsy) was smart and lovely, was Miss Tennessee while in college, and spent several years in Washington working for Tennessee Democratic Senator Estes Kefauver. He had encouraged her to become a lawyer, which she did after his death. Life wasn’t always easy—but she navigated the rough spots with courage and humor. She adored her husband Mack, her children, Patty and Raymond, and her grandsons. Later in life she went to Sewanee and got her M.Div. degree.
It was special that we both wound up living in the Nashville area. We reconnected—with visits and phone calls—talking about family memories, politics and faith. Once, Raymond took the two of us for lunch at The Hermitage Hotel to celebrate Pat’s birthday. I enlarged this photograph, framed it and took it to her that day.
Girls and women have the potential to lead, to write, to influence and to change their world. Godspeed to our new Vice President, Kamala Harris!