Remembering My Mom

By Melissa Ross
news.wjct.org/programs/first-coast-connect
@MelissainJax
 
 
 

146075080_d17392cda9_zMother’s Day is often tough for me, because although I love the flowers from my husband, breakfast in bed, and the adorable handmade cards my daughters make for me, I miss my own mother.

It’s truly a pain that never heals. After a short, awful battle with aggressive breast cancer, Mom died on Martin Luther King Day in 2002. I was a news anchor in Orlando at the time, and was at the airport getting ready to board a plane home to be at her side when I got the call that she had passed. I didn’t make it in time.  Luckily, my brother was there with her, and that does comfort me a little.

My mom Joyce was loving, complicated, funny, and like many women of her generation, frustrated. Raised to be a wife and mother, the women’s liberation movement came along when her kids were young. Suddenly, the rules had changed. I remember a lot of consciousness-raising type events, much tension and awkward jokes about “women’s lib” between the couples in my parents’ social circle, and frankly, a lot of anger. There were a lot of divorces among their friends, and of course, all around the country, as women decided they were going to do things differently and husbands weren’t quite sure how to react.

After my parents’ divorce, my mom did something totally new- she went to work full-time (outside the home, that is). She kept working right up until she got very sick. She loved having agency for the first time in her life- paying her own bills, buying her own food, being in control.  Today, that sort of agency and control over our own destinies is something young women take for granted. They simply don’t realize that it was not that long ago that a woman had to have her husband’s permission to best online casino do something as simple as get a credit card at a department store.   And of course, my late grandmother, my mother’s mother, was born before women won the right to vote.  The social changes for women have been extraordinary and in the great sweep of history, they’ve happened in basically an eye-blink.

My mom was always adamant that I make my own way in the world, have a self-supporting career, and that I never define myself through a relationship with a man. She was a feminist in the true, original sense of the word.   I carry that legacy with me every day, and I’m grateful that she instilled that sense of independence in me. When I think of my mom, I think of the incredible value of womens’ hard-won agency in the world. We must treasure it, always.

 

melissa rossAbout the Author
First Coast Connect host/producer Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards.