Friday, October 17, 2008

The Women Who Formed Me.. Grandma

Throughout my life I have been blessed to be surrounded by some of the most amazing women in the world. They were mother, sister, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, teachers, girl scout leaders, friends and sometimes even a bit of an enemy. They were strong, creative, opinionated, wicked, willful, arrogant, smart, funny, quirky, talented and just plain amazing.

I mentioned my grandma in a previous post, this woman was truly amazing, brilliant and oh so far ahead of her time. She spoke with me when I was a child but never did she treat me as one. Rather as a woman whom she already had enormous expectations for. As a child I didn't quite understand that and often felt that something inside me was missing. It wasn't and she didn't feel that way. She just expected me to be all that I could be. She wanted me to be strong, and brave, a leader among men.. better yet a leader among women. She in all her wonder helped to make me who I am.

Now don't get me wrong, this woman was not perfect she was eclectic. She had opinions and didn't worry about expressing them. As a child I remember she would put her phone in the refrigerator so she couldn't hear it and the family would eventually worry enough to come check on her. The thought of actually initiating the call was beyond her. She could be petty and just a tad manipulative but she never faltered from her convictions. And she expected that you never would either.

I spent much of my free time with her and yet most of my memories are of doing.. she was not the type of grandma that one would expect to cook brownies for them. In all honesty I don't ever remember her cooking anything. As a matter of fact one time I asked her to show me how to bake a cake (I was about 8 or 9). She looked at me very carefully handed me a box of cake mix and said "if you can read you can cook" and then she left the room. Another time I asked if she could teach me how to make orange juice, now my grandma had two gorgeous fruit bearing orange trees in her back yard, once again she looked down her nose and gave me that oh so regal look that only she could manage... handed me a can of frozen orange juice and said "if you can read... you can make orange juice" obviously she was big on reading.

When I was very small she would make all of my dresses, up into at least first grade maybe second. These were simple ordinary dresses but her coupe de gras was she would take the material over to the van's (yes we had a van's shoe factory in my hometown) factory and have a pair of gym shoes made to match. How cool was that. She often attended us on our weekend jaunts to the nearby mountains and one of my favorite pictures of her is of her flying down the hill in an innertube. No One Else's grandma did that.

As I got older (ok 8) she needed a traveling companion.. this started several years of trips, Hawaii, the west coast, the east coast. Each would be a 3 week to a month adventure. I discovered the beauty of Hawaii, the amazing history of our country and the true beauty of the pacific northwest. All because grandma needed a traveling partner. Yes I was spoiled.

But to whom much is given, much is expected. I was and am an emotional being, rather thin skinned and easily hurt. She saw that as a failing.. expecting me to buck up, be strong, don't let my feelings show. She was a tough old broad and she expected that of all the women around her. and God forbid you ever say I can't. She would raise herself up to her formidable height (I say almost 6' but the family says more like 5'8" but I feel mine is better for the stories sake), so she would pull herself up to her full almost 6 feet of height, look down that aristocratic nose and say "You are an American and the last four letters of American spell I CAN". needless to say as a child one would think that was hokey but it was pretty cool.

As you can tell this woman was an amazing gift to those of us who knew her. I am sure I will be revisiting her often but for now that is it.

Be Well All

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