Connecting with the Strength of the Women Who Came Before Me

By Anne Maxson

When I was 5 years old, (after having only seen male doctors to that point in life), I asked my mom if girls could be doctors too. The story got back to my maternal grandmother and from that point on, she referred to me as “Dr. Anne.” 

When I was a teenager, she and I went on a couple of bus tours. The introduction was always, “This is my granddaughter, Annie, and she is going to be a doctor.” The nickname “Dr. Anne” would spread to all of the sweet people on the bus tour.

As I got closer to high school graduation, I started to feel some pressure to live up to that title. To be honest, it was a bit frustrating to me since I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a doctor anymore. At some point, I decided that an MD wasn’t in my future so I would pursue a PhD or other doctorate degree. 

A few days before this past Mother’s Day, we went through a large number of pictures from my childhood so we could decide which ones needed to be scanned. As I looked through them, there were many pictures of me with my grandmother. 

I had been thinking of her a lot even before that but between the pictures and Mother’s Day, my thoughts really turned to gratitude for all that she did to support me and encourage me. 

In March, after having a memory come back of my grandmother always reading the book “Little Women” to me every time I visited, I reached out to my mom to ask her about it. I said, “Mom, that book is somewhat forward-thinking for Grandma’s generation.” 

My mom said, “Yes, honey, Grandma was very forward-thinking. She was extremely intelligent but due to the times in which she lived, she was limited in the educational opportunities that she had but she was very good at math and used that to develop a career. She did go against the grain in the fact that when her husband returned from WWII, she kept working. To be honest, she was vilified by her friends for doing that. She even lost some of who she thought were her closest friends.” 

As I considered what my mom shared, I realized that the nickname and all the introductions weren’t because she wanted to put pressure on me. It was in fact, because she didn’t want me to have a ceiling like she had when she was young. She wanted me to truly believe and know that I could be absolutely anything I put my mind to. 

I eventually received a doctorate and have a successful career that allows me to work in a field I love as well as having a focus on my family.  I have felt strength from beyond the veil, especially from my two exceptional grandmothers. In particular, I have felt inspired by the opportunities that I have during this age of society.

One of the many reasons I love to attend the temple is because I feel closer to them there. I appreciate that opportunity to connect with them and think of the support and encouragement they extend.

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