• Jessica Lucci

Ruth Bader Ginsberg Taught Us to be Ladies

When I was growing up, I was raised to be a lady. I wore smocked Polly Flinders dresses with white wool tights and shiny patent leather Mary Janes. On gym days, I wore rubber soled Mary Janes. My bedroom was an explosion of pink gingham daisies.

I had so many dolls I learned to be creative with naming them. I made up names, places, adventures. I’d explore the wet woodsy marsh behind the park and come home with sticky burrs in my eternally braided hair and fresh scrapes on my knobby knees. Dresses didn’t hamper me from climbing trees.

My mother gave me all things of the girlish world. The one thing I am most grateful for is the one thing she never gave me. Criticism.

When lace ripped on thorns, when my knee highs tattered, when my gloves became stained with mud and berries, I was never once chastised. I was completely accepted, hanging upside down on branches with my slip hanging over my face. I was allowed to be me, never a graceful ballerina, not dreaming of playing house, but always wandering off into new and undainty freedom.

I was allowed to get dirty, to fall, to dream. Failure was a fraud; I learned that being genuine was the only way to live.

At the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, I reflect on the lessons of childhood that my mother taught me about being a lady. And I hear my thoughts echoed in Ginsberg’s words of wisdom. “My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.”

Tonight I am grateful to mothers who let their daughters be who they are, and allow them to grow up to be ladies, in whichever way that term may be interpreted.

Rest In Peace, RBG. You were the lady of them all.