Dear Grandma Barhite,
Happy Birthday. You would have turned 91 Thursday.
If you were alive you would be reading this column -- tickled to be a part of it.
You were proud I was studying to be a journalist.
But you died a few months before I got my first real journalism job out of college.
Sure, you read the stories I wrote in high school and college, but it's not the same.
While I worked in the circulation department at the Blade throughout college, you were so proud because it was the big-time local newspaper in your eyes. I wasn't even writing stories.
Over the years, I often think about what I would have clipped and sent to you from the Register.
The last time we were together was when you were in hospice before I left for a newspaper internship.
I don't remember what you said to me, although I remember your eyes.
They were telling me to go and be happy and do what you might have done if you were 22 in this day and age.
I think you might have said something to that extent. I was preoccupied with the thought that this was the last time I would see you.
Writing was something you enjoyed, I remember. You once even mentioned it would have possibly been something you would have pursued.
You never expressed regret about being born Feb. 1, 1916.
But it wasn't a time when women who wanted to journalists -- or most anything else for that matter -- would be encouraged to do so.
You raised six children, though, and when you died May 29, 2001, you had 18 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
My sisters and I were toward the end of the line so by the time we were born you were a little tired to be grandma.
That was OK, though.
We didn't play dolls together. I can't ever remember spending the night at your house. And I know you gave my mom the money to buy your Christmas gifts for us.
But again, that's OK.
You were an inspiration.
I am doing what you might have done if you had the chance.
It's the best gift women can give each other.
Pursue our dreams not just because we want to, but because those before us couldn't.
I occasionally wonder how I would feel if I had been born prior to Feb. 15, 1979. I was the only grandchild to be born in February.
I was given your birthstone ring after you died. My mother turned it into a necklace for me.
When I wear it, I obviously think of you. I also think about writing.
Would I have put up a fuss if I had an interest and couldn't pursue it? Would I have even known it was an injustice? Would I have cared?
What I think is progressive today may really be nothing to my grandchildren 50 years from now.
But that's good. Every generation is supposed to have it better. Appreciate that. Relish it. Don't let it go to waste.
As I celebrate my 28th birthday this month and reflect on your 91st birthday, Grandma Barhite, I will continue to write to the best of my ability. One, because I want to. Two, because you couldn't.