This past Saturday at lunch time I was seated in a living room with some women who have been very important in my life for almost twenty years, the members of my Women’s Institute branch. At forty-six years old I am the youngest by ten years, our oldest member at ninety-three was not able to attend that day. Most members are retired, one lives on a working farm, three of us live in the city. Some are knitters, some are quilters, we have some prize-winning bakers etc. What do we have in common? We are all women, most have or have had husbands and children, most have worked hard either at home or outside our homes. We have experienced life as women and all that entails and we all wanted to help our community and keep on learning.
We were gathered together for a luncheon and the final meeting of our branch. After ninety years our branch has disbanded. We will no longer be meeting together on the first Saturday of each month to plan community service and learn something new. No more lucky cup and napkin prizes, no more pots of tea and sharing our stories.
In case you don’t know what Women’s Institute is, it is an organization which began in Canada when a farm wife Adelaide Hoodless learned about pasteurization after her son had died from drinking unpasteurized milk. Horrified that her son’s death had been preventable she felt she needed to share this information with other women. The motto for the organization is For Home and Country. Do you remember the movie Calendar Girls? The group they belonged to was Women’s Institute.
I will miss the group. When we talked about it at the luncheon we agreed that given the internet available everywhere for education that role of our group is now covered, especially for people living in cities. I believe that the work we do in the community will be missed. Our final work as a group was to give our remaining funds from the sale of our hall to a number of charities in our area. In the end we can be proud of the work that was done by our group over the ninety years.