Every time I come home I am reminded of the amazing women who came before me. I know I have talked about my maternal grandmother before, Granny, and she seems to be poping up a lot lately. Every time my extended family gets together she always comes up. Not only was she the Matriarch of our family but I strongly believe that she has influenced each and every one of us more than we would like to let on. I have been thinking about her a lot lately as I sit and watch TV and knit. I know she would have preferred me to crochet...but sorry Gran knitting just took better than crocheting! When my cousins, Mother, Father and brother and I went out for drinks the other week Granny came up once again but this time we also talked about my Grandfather. My grandfather rarely comes up in casual conversation unless it is related to his drinking problem which eventually killed him in June of 1972. And although we were once again talking about his drinking problems I learned more about him and my Grandmother than I had known before. Granny apparently always said that he was a different man after he came back from the war; he was in the Pacific during World War II. But nonetheless, they had 4 more children. I also learned that in the end he was pretty much forced into early retirement because his drinking was starting to interfere with his work. He was in the medical profession soooooo being drunk on the job really didn't go over well. The day before he died my grandmother found this poem on the bed. (Granny wrote on the side "Found on bed morning of June 7, 1972")
To my dearest:
Remember me when I am gone away, gone far
away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
nor I, half turn to go, yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more, day by day, you
tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand it will be
too late for counsel then or prayer
Yet if you should forget me for a while and
afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave a vestige
of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile than
that you should remember and be sad.
All my love, always, Forbes
For a while we thought that my grandfather had written this poem. But it turns out it was written by a woman, Christina Rossetti at the end of the 19th century. But what I love about this is that we have the original poem he left and you can see the handwriting change. He knew he was dying. And the last line "All my love, always, Forbes" is so sloppy compared to the rest of the poem. You can almost feel how hard it was to write that. He was saying goodbye forever. And thats something I couldn't even imagine doing.
But throughout everything Gran always said that she couldn't wait to see Forbes, my grandfather, again. If anything that just tells you how much she was able to forgive, and move on. Granny lived through a lot. She lived through the depression, and as a result would save EVERYTHING! FYI tin foil should not only be used once everyone. It can be used over and over and over again...even when it starts to turn colors. She had an alcoholic husband, and raised 5 children and supported many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, neighbors and friends. She found her father dead after he killed himself- Something we never talk about and I have always wondered why. I have also wondered how this effected my grandmother. She was alive for women getting the vote, she went to college when it wasn't fashionable for women to do so, and she held a job for most of her life. Overall I would say she was a pretty amazing person. She saw everything but always had a smile on her face, and a tray full of candy for you when you came to visit.
My paternal grandmother, Grammy, we didn't get to know as well as Granny. She died of dementia when I was only 4 years old I believe. The only real memory I have of her is her holding me but not knowing to let go and I was terrified. Mom like to tell the story that after Grammy's funeral I came up to her and said that we needed to go buy a balloon for Grammy. When Mom asked why I said, "So she can play with it in heaven." What I wanted to do was get a balloon and let go of it for her. I mean we all know the balloons have GPS and can get to their intended recipients! Grammy was an amazing woman herself. Her husband died when my father was 11 and my aunt was 9. This was in 1959 and it wasn't normal to have a working single mother. But she did it anyway. She worked at a shoe store and my Dad was thrown in to the position as the "man of the house". This is probably why he is so stubborn today. I wish I could have gotten to know Grammy more because we are apparently very similar. She used to make my aunt a new dress every week. And I am currently working on a dress to wear to my cousin's wedding next week. She was also a pack rat and so am I! I keep anything with the littlest sentimentality attached. But for the most part she remains a mystery to me. I know my father and aunt have always called her "Mother" never "Mom". Just little things like that. I hope I can find out more! Time to start asking questions.
My last great woman family member that I know about was my great-grandmother, my mother's father's mother. She was also a single parent but at the beginning of the 20th century. Her husband left, I'm not sure if they divorced or just separated. But I know that it was never discussed and my Grandmother didn't know that her husband's father wasn't dead until someone came and told them that he had just died. I believe that's how the story goes at least....correct me on any of this if you are reading and I got it wrong by the way. She raised her boys without a husband and it just amazes me that she was able to do that at the beginning of the 20th century! Did she work? How did she get money? Did they live with family somewhere? Did the boys work to bring home money for the family? This has always been something I have wondered about.
And lastly but surely not least my Mother has been the best support system I ever could have asked for. We have thrown her so many curve balls over the years but she always sticks by us kids. Mom was at every band competition, every band fund raiser, sports fundraiser, concert, game etc. She also at one point was holding 4 jobs, K-Mart, the Bank, Keys Stadium, and Treasurer for the Band Boosters (trust me she wasn't getting payed for it but it took up a TON of time and commitment). My whole life Mom has taught me how to be supportive, how to twirl my hair, how to be a multi-tasker, how to give good massages, how to make perfectly alined poster boards, how to spell, how to respect everyone, how to drive, how to be a good person, and how to be an amazing mother. Thank you for putting up with my nonsense. And I can't wait to become better friends with you as I get older.
One day I hope that I can make my list of top women in my family. I hope that I will break boundaries, break glass ceilings, break expectations, and set new limits. I'm almost ready to get started. And I know that I have huge shoes to fill considering the women who have come before me. But I am excited.