INTERNATIONAL WOMAN'S DAY BLOG PARTY
SUNDAY, MARCH 8, 2009
"Family faces are magic mirrors.
Looking at people who belong to us,
we see the past, present, and future."
Gail Lumet Buckley
In my last post I looked back at some of the women who helped shape my life, if only through their DNA. To my surprise all that hindsight stirred up some powerful emotions and dark dreams. I guess that is what archeology is all about. When digging through the dirt one is bound to find some skeletons. Without the ladies I wrote about being here to set me straight, I think that on the flip side of character traits I mentioned, anger and depression might lead the pack.
I'm pretty sure my Grammy's life was hard enough that a glass or two of bourbon was an easier way to get through the day than face down some of the demons. I can still hear the kitchen cabinets slamming as my mother vented her vexations. I have some suppositions as to why these bright, courageous, strong, adventuresome women were quick to anger but this isn't the place to air the dirty laundry.
If looking back is helpful, I think it is also good to look to take note of the positive attributes of women with whom I share my life today. I'm kind of surrounded by women as there are many more X chromosomes in our gene pool than Y. But 3 ladies in particular immediately come to mind when I think of the ones who have had a major impact on me - who, by word and deed, inspire me to reach beyond myself and be all that I can be.
First, there is my sister Linda. She is 8 years older than me and those years made a big difference when we were growing up. We lived in the same house, experienced the same dramas but we weren't particularly close. She was in high school when I was still playing with baby dolls.
I think we became friends around the time I was in high school and needed a safe place to hang out. I spent a few summers with Linda and her husband. She must have still considered me a kid sister but she readily shared her home with me. Over the years our lives ran on parallel tracks. We raised our kids together, spent holidays together, went on vacations together, cried together and found lots of reasons to laugh.
When it comes to sisters Linda is about the best there is. As for friends, they don't get any better. I don't mean to make her sound like a Labrador retriever, but to me Linda is loyal, trustworthy, willing to go the distance - whatever the distance is - friendly, smart and determined. When I've needed a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen or a hand to hold, Linda has always been there for me. When I've needed a person to emulate, Linda is the one I most want to be like.
Another woman who has had a major impact on my life would be my daughter, Weneki. I'm not sure she likes me using her real name for all the world to see, so I've used her Hawaiian name.
From the very instant that the nurse put that chubby cheeked, bald-headed baby in my arms my life was filled to the brim with abundance - light, joy, drama, spirit, wisdom and fun. From the get-go Weneki was an "I'll-do-it-myself" kind of girl. Her in-born stubborn streak has served Weneki well over the years. Whether it's standing her ground with her brother, writing a term paper, climbing 67 flights of stairs for a fundraiser, addressing Christmas cards or speaking her mind even when her anxiety level meter is going full tilt, once her mind is made up, Weneki takes action then doggedly follows through to the end of whatever she started. Like her grandmother before her you can pretty much tell what Weneki is feeling by the way her brown eyes sparkle or stare through you.
I don't think I exaggerate when I say Weneki's single most important character trait would be her steadfast devotion to her husband. She married him without knowing if she'd be a widow before the ink on the marriage license was dry. She met every challenge his health presented. Sure she did her share of fussing, but Weneki never looked back; she kept her face to the sun and took life (and death) as it came at her. I've never been more proud of her than when she stood at the podium at Zubin's memorial service and said the "F" word. In essence she was being true to herself. I hope I can follow that example with as much grace.
When my son became a father, I became a grandmother. Not the kind of grandmother I thought I'd be. I have always lived much too far away to be hands on the way I'd like to be. This teeny tiny girl child was the start of another generation. She has all the spirit, strength and beauty of the women that came before her. But the wild streak that defines her dad is the light in her eye that can be seen a mile away. Part girlly girl and part get down and dirty Ashley is a power to be reckoned with and she's only 14. Look out world, here she comes!
Having lived through the trials of raising a teenager, I sometimes want to wrap this child (and let's face it, half-grown or not, she'll always be a child to Grammy) in bubble wrap to protect her from the bumps and bruises that come with living a full life. But then I guess that's her father's job. All I have to do is love her which isn't too hard to do.
It's not easy to describe why being a grandmother is way different from being a mother. (Should I tell that to all the sandwich generation women out there who are raising their children's children?) But for me, the difficult part of being a parent was all that responsibility for how the child was going to turn out. As if I had all the power and control and the child had nothing to say about it. As a grandparent my job is to be a cheerleader, to encourage Ashley to be all she can be, to tell the stories of the women that came before her, to set an example that she might want follow.
All these great women and I've not even gotten to my #1 IWD choice yet. Does that make me really lucky or just an over-achiever?