Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Strength

My grandmother was a strong woman. She wasn’t a “flashy” woman, or a woman people would call a “character.” She didn’t keep 10 cats, only one. Even so, she was a strong woman. She worked strongly, she lived strongly, and she loved strongly. I wouldn’t call her a “tough broad”, but she was strong in all the ways that count.

My grandmother lived in an area of the country where life wasn’t often easy, and she lived during times that were often difficult. I don’t know if her strength was an intrinsic part of her personality, or if the circumstances of her life molded her strength. Probably some of both. My grandmother worked hard all her life. She loved, raised, and taught her children (including at least one foster child that is still a part of the family), as well as other people’s children through Church, 4-H, and Riding Club activities. Her teaching “style” was a subtle as her strength. She showed you how to do it, and then expected you to get it done. She kept her home and her garden. After her children were grown, she worked for the Forest Service until well into what most folks would call their “senior years.” She suffered the loss of her beloved husband and a daughter. Money was always tight, but things worked out. Because she was strong.

But it seemed to me, as a granddaughter looking in (so to speak) that her internal strength was able to withstand the things she had to face because her strength wasn’t brittle. Her strength was tempered by love. She’d get exasperated at my grandpa, for example, but she loved him. Her love for my grandfather was readily apparent to anyone who looked for it, even when she was cussin’ him. She always loved her children (and grandchildren) even when she disapproved something we did. We knew it, and counted on it. She loved her garden, her mountain, and her community. Maybe her capacity to love was what made her strong, and how she lived her life was just a reflection of her inner capacity to love. I don’t know. I just hope that I can be half the woman she was. She is my hero. I miss her.

My mother found these “words of wisdom” my grandmother jotted down on a piece of paper. Perhaps they’ll help us all gain some insight and strength. Some of the quotes are attributed, some are not. I haven’t “cite checked” the attributions, just left them as my grandmother wrote them:

1. If you take care of the pennies the dollars will take care of themselves.

2. Honesty is not only the best way, it is the only way.

3. Why do we allow someone who is nasty to us, to rent so much space in our minds? (Fredric Luskin)

4. Teach your children the virtue of honesty. A person who is honest enjoys a clean conscience and an unspotted reputation.

5. If you must make mistakes, it will be more to your credit if you make a new one each time. (unknown)

3 comments:

Audrey said...

this is great.... I hope I can be half the woman she was... She was a good example to all.. this is a great tribute to a very good woman

Ally said...

Sis. I miss her too, you couldn't have captured Grandma any more eloquently. She was, and always will be, my hero also. Thank you for the tribute. You too are a "strong woman" Grandma taught us all well. I love you!

Sevillalost said...

I remember telling my grandma (your mom) that in my experience, women who take care of themselves and their business, and don't take crap from others, are often called "bitches". I said "Grandma, if that's true, then I come from a long, distinguished line of Bitches."

Apparently she told her mom that, who laughed so hard she cried.

So here's to all the Bitches in our family. Love you.

Sevilla