Strong women: the backbone of our country

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 8, 2010

I’ve been lucky enough during my life to be surrounded by strong women. My mom, Ernestine Seal, and my grandmother, Velma Seal, they are both exceptional.

My mom worked in the banking industry always, moving from teller to branch supervisor over the years. She always found time for me, too, and was involved in all my school and extra-curricular activities.

There were very few times she didn’t attend an event in which I was involved. She worked at school events, entertained my church youth group, knew my friends and their families and always knew what we were up to.

We clashed, as mothers and daughters do, but we have always remained close.

My grandmother (my dad’s mom) has lived alone since my grandfather died when I was just a toddler. She ran a grocery store in Varnado for many years then a post office there for many more. She worked until she was 80 and since then has continued to earn money on her own.

I spent many portions of summer vacation and school holidays with my grandmother when I was growing up. We lived a few hours apart, but that didn’t keep me away from her.

I learned valuable lessons from these women during my youth, and I’ve continued to learn from them during my adult life. I believe I’ve inherited their strength and motivation, and I hope I’ve inherited their strong commitment to family.

Many children are blessed with the love of mothers and grandmothers. But many aren’t.

Many youth today seem to be straying into a life of drugs, crime and total disobedience. Many don’t have parental guidance; many have laughed in the face of rules.

But those with a solid family structure who’ve learned right from wrong from the beginning, those who didn’t get their way always and those who learned to appreciate the discipline instilled in them, those young people, I believe, will end up on the right path.

Some may believe the old saying “behind every good man is a good woman” to be sexist, but I believe it is true. For girls, too. A mother who is not afraid to stand tall, be strong and be a good example to her children is probably our world’s most valuable asset.

My mother is that. So is my grandmother. And now, I can only pray, I will be, too. My daughter is 10 and my greatest accomplishment. She is also, I believe, the greatest gift I have ever given my mom and grandmother, who love her as if she were their own

My roots are solid; my strength is born of the examples set for me. Now my job, as a mother, is to pass that on to my daughter and help her become a strong, independent, committed woman.

Thanks, Mom and Mimmie, for showing me how. Happy Mother’s Day.

Sandy Cunningham is publisher of L’Observateur. She can be reached at