Light Notes

Sen. Murray's plea to women hits home

Just when women thought their Christmas to-do list was complete, U.S. Senator Patty Murray wants to add one more item.

She’s looking for new women to run for Congress in 2012 — the sort of people who have great stories to tell.

I wish my mom could have filled one of the pair of “tennis shoes” for this race. But she was born in the wrong era — yet the right one, if you need a tale to tell.

Born Dec. 13, 1910, Lillian Edna knew what it meant to be poor.

Raised in rural Arizona, she learned early how to sweep their dirt floor, rejoice if nothing more than an orange was in the toe of her Christmas stocking and be thankful when her brothers outgrew their well-worn shoes.

The only daughter in a household of seven brothers, she made do with cardboard insoles and threadbare jeans cinched with a borrowed belt. Her hair cut short and riding her pony to an adobe one-room schoolhouse, my mom could easily have been mistaken for a boy — and a dark skinned one at that.

Edna, as she liked to be called, understood discrimination. And she knew about poor self-esteem, although the word hadn’t been embraced in her generation.

The granddaughter of a full-blooded Mexican and a white grandfather, this young girl wore color when it wasn’t fashionable.

Looked down upon by "the other side of town" and spurned by her own mother, Edna slept a distance from the main house, her bed often soaked with tears — and more. An outhouse was a formidable place in the darkness of night.

Life wasn’t easy then or in later years as a young woman. The Great Depression took its toll on her new marriage, one that ended with her struggling to make ends meet as a single mom.

Yet, even though those early years left my mom empty-handed, she was determined to give a full life to her children. By the time she had reached the end of her journey — one that included a career — Edna was able to see not only successful college-educated sons and a daughter, but also grandchildren, as well.

Yes, I think my mother was the type of woman Sen. Murray is looking for today, “people who come to the job who really want to make a difference for their country.”

In many ways, Edna did exactly that as a mother. She raised upstanding children with a deep faith in God and a love for their country. Her story is one of the “great” ones.