March is Women’s History Month, a time to respect and appreciate women and the contributions women have made and continue to make. 

A documentary on the life of author and activist Alice Walker (born February 9, 1944- ) aired several times in the past few weeks.  Among the books Ms. Walker has written is the PulitzerPrize for Fiction novel “The Color Purple.” It is a story about a young African American woman called Celie, who is victimized by a racist white culture and a black patriarchal culture. Celie relates her life in letters to God, letters that include the emotional and physical abuse she experiences. 

Along the same lines, our mother taught my sister and me an important lesson about abuse when we were little girls. Our mom answered a knock at the door, greeted and invited Miss Camelia in. Miss Camelia lived down the street from us and was the mother of one of our playmates. 

She told our mom that she had come to our house to get away from her husband, who had hit her. She leaned over and showed our mom the top of her head.  Our mom said, “Sit down, Camelia, so I can get a better look at your head.” 

Miss Camelia sat down.  Our mom pursed her lips as she looked at Miss Camelia’s head.  “You’re bleeding.  I’ll get some cotton and alcohol.” 

Our mom returned from the kitchen with alcohol-soaked cotton balls and dabbed at Miss Camelia’s head. “Oh, my goodness, Camelia. You probably need to go to the hospital.  What happened?” 

Miss Camelia said rather matter of factly, “That man of mine told me to lean over so he could hit me in the head with a coke bottle. I leaned over and he did it.  I’m not going to the hospital.” 

Our mom yelled, “You fool. This isn’t the first time he’s hit you. Why do you keep staying with him?” 

Miss Camelia looked at our mom and said in a somewhat angry voice, “Because I love him.  You haven’t ever been in love with anybody the way I am.” 

Our mom’s eyebrows lowered into a scowl as she said in an angry voice, “And I never will, if this is what love is.” 

Miss Camelia said nothing. Mom returned her first aid material to the cabinet in the kitchen. When she returned to the living room, she sat down and stared at the TV. 

Miss Camelia sat for a while, thanked our mom for taking care of her, then got up to leave.  Our mom walked her to the door and said good night. She had hardly got out the door when our mom looked at us and shook that scary index finger at us while stating sternly,

 “I have done very little hitting on you while raising you, and nobody is supposed to hit you when you’re grown.  Do you hear me?”  “Yes, ma’am,” our sister and I answered together like a duet, “Nobody is supposed to hit us when we’re grown.”

Advice for life.

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...