I’m not sure how I thought the introductory post to this blog might look, but this isn’t exactly what I had in mind. In fact, my co-author and sister just might not be thrilled that I started without her. However, she will get over it…because that is what we do. She has given me permission since I wrote that first part, but I think will now have to get over the minimal housekeeping I did before sharing.
As I looked at twitter and FB this morning, I saw multiple posts about International Day of Women. I started thinking about the women in my family.
I come from a matriarchy, in fact, my maternal Grandmother was often referred to as The Matriarch. She was a widowed mother to five daughters and one son. I remember hosting a brunch after my sister’s wedding and realizing that in a crowd of 40+ there were only 4 adult men to whom I was blood related. Of my thirteen cousins on that side—only four are male, and except for one, the males have older sisters.
All three of my Grandmothers outlived their husbands. I am told that I met my paternal Grandfather, but I don’t remember him. My parents divorced when I was 8. I was accustomed to seeing women functioning as solo heads of household.
There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to the way I grew up. However, today is about the gifts these women gave me.
Grandmother (not a single one of us ever mouthed a diminutive that stuck)--My maternal grandmother. She possessed a strong, Southern grace that I cannot begin to put into words. She was proper. She was a teacher. She also taught the grandchildren to make false teeth out of watermelon rind and told me a dirty joke even though she had to write the word “fuck” on a napkin and point to it instead of saying it.
Gammy—My “step” Grandmother She treated my siblings and me as if she had been present at our birth. She was boisterous, kind, generous, independent as hell (sometimes to the chagrin of her two sons). It is hard for me to remember her without a smile on her face.
Grandmother K—my paternal grandmother She is the source of my red hair. She was devoted to her three sons. She and her sister were the way I hope Bryan and I are when we reach that age. She played the piano beautifully, and instilled a love for music that has continued to touch even the great grandchildren she never met.
Joan—married my Poppa when I was 12 Feisty, Italian, 5’ even, but not to be messed with. Taught things about love that I didn’t comprehend until after she was gone. Somehow got stuck with teaching me to drive—and didn’t shriek once. Taught me that Poppa didn’t have to “know EVERYTHING.” Helped me to be a better step-mother to the twins during my brief marriage. Bravely battled breast cancer, even having radiation the day before (or morning of?) Bryan’s wedding. Best spaghetti with meatballs you ever would taste.
Mother—Divorced in 1973 when it really “wasn’t done.” I look like her when I am having a good day. She taught me to be responsible for my actions. She taught me that you can wear Reeboks to a formal event as long as you behave as if you meant to do it. She was creative and just by observing her, I learned things about sewing and painting and cooking that I didn’t even realize until after she was gone. She also taught me that if you are going to a pot luck and run out of time to prepare a dish—store bought potato salad can be passed off as an old family recipe as long as you put it in a nice bowl and add some paprika and parsley.
Bryan—my baby sister I don’t think I ever tried to smother her after they brought her home, but I really wanted to when I was 13 and she was 10. We have gotten over that, and she is my very best friend. When people ask me who my heroes are, she is the first to come to mind. She is strong, kind,and generous. She parents the hell out of my wonderful niece and nephew. She is funny as hell and writes like nobody’s business. Please read my posts even if hers are better. Pretty please?
These are just the bare bones of the women who had a hand in who I am today. Any strength, grace, wisdom, or wit I possess is due (at least in part) to them and many others…aunts, cousins, friends and sisters who just happened not to be blood relatives.
I’m not precisely sure what the official mission behind those who chose this to be International Day of Women was, but purposefully remembering those who have affected me and will continue to do so seemed like the right thing for me.
So, how about you? Who has had an impact on your life? What does this day mean to you?