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Dan Conaway

Dan Conaway is in a relationship with his city. A communication strategist, freelance writer, and author of "I'm a Memphian," he can be reached at dan@wakesomebodyup.com.

Conaway: The women. Still.

By Updated: October 19, 2018 6:44 AM CT | Published: October 19, 2018 6:41 AM CT

UP TO THE WOMEN.

My friend Richie Wilson had a few strains and bruises but that’s all really – pretty amazing when you realize how far through the air he went. His mother, Barbara, had already made a big hole in the windshield – her face leading the way – and he sailed right through it from the back seat.

I was 13 that Labor Day when the car approaching us lost control and swerved into our lane. Richie’s dad, Rich Wilson, jerked the wheel and slammed into the kudzu-covered shoulder at about 65. There were eight of us in that station wagon – the whole Wilson family, Betsy the dog, and me – coming back from Wahpeton Hill above the Spring River in Hardy, Arkansas. I was asleep in the way-back with the fishing gear, my head on Betsy.

Amazingly, no one died. Amazingly, the Arkansas National Guard was on maneuvers and their convoy, including a medical unit, was minutes behind the wreck. There were lots of resulting casts and stiches among the passengers, including Betsy’s slashed nose. I spent six weeks in the hospital, but Barbara Wilson got the worst of it, her face most of all.

Amazingly, you can’t see a stitch of all that today. That lovely face is 97, still the quiet smile I first saw in 1961, still the knowing behind the eyes. I see her from time to time at Trezevant where she lives, or out somewhere still involved, still going to Holy Communion as she has since the doors opened, still heading this or that, still interested in a subject, a book, an issue, a cause.

There’s a whole lot of still in her generation, the women of the greatest generation, the women who served and waited and worked when the world was on fire, who were still here when the men came home, who made sure the here was still here when the men came home. These are the women who raised my generation – the boomers – and taught, supported and sustained us – and amazingly have received only history’s condescending pat on the head for the effort.

The women who made a hole for us to go through.

Now our daughters are making noise, our daughters are being seen and heard in the corridors of power, in the cloakrooms and backrooms of old white men, and who our daughters are and what they’re capable of scares those who hold that power to their very core.

Women are the true majority. Their concerns, if not outrage, over being marginalized, if not ignored – their abuse mental and physical – are the true threats to the system that has so long manipulated them with the myth of male superiority.

This midterm election is arguably the most important in my adult lifetime, and women can make the difference. If they turn out and vote their conscience, they can begin to clean up another frightening mess that men have made.

This time, they’ll get credit.

I’m a Memphian, and I assure you Barbara Wilson will be voting.

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