“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”
My English grandmother, Caroline, would put it in her own way. “Girl, you have a bloody tongue in your head, use it.” I did and I continue to do so. There has always been a price but it was the advice that probably saved my emotional life. We had high tea and I played bingo with her and her lady friends. I never lost and it was years until I realized they let me win. She also had a closet with a box of toys in it for us to play with. I could walk under her dining room table. Today, I tell my own grandchildren to speak their truth, I always let them win at games and there is always a box of toys.
My grandparents came over on the boat through Nova Scotia from London with 5 children and one on the way. I think she was brave and good and she loved me. I still miss her.
My grandmother Marie was the center of my life. She was Croatian. She sewed dresses, even wedding dresses, by hand. All those little tiny stitches by hand. She kept the cleanest house I have ever seen. I can’t sew. It makes me a nervous wreck. I spent summers with her and my grandpa in Cleveland when I was young and I was very happy there with them. I learned to be a good person from them and to have good manners and to love the Cleveland Indians. I was 16 when Grandma Marie died and I was inconsolable. The sunshine left my world and I miss her still.
A Word to the Wise
Sometimes, with age comes wisdom. These pioneering women were wise with skills and experience, and they were often able to share with us their intuition, nurturing, compassion, and personal truths. Often this occurred in a simple act of relating a story, teaching a lesson or modeling.
Words brought hope and encouragement. The special way a loving grandparent spoke a child’s name was soothing. Some words, sacred phrases, or secular advice conjured healing for spiritual or physical wounds. Other words became cues for listening well; what followed might change a life forever. For one granddaughter, a grandmother’s words taught her to appreciate everyday activities for their simple truths and wise instruction.
Bone of my Bones
“Families will not be broken.
Curse and expel them, send their children wandering,
drown them in floods and fires,
and old women will make songs out of all these sorrows
and sing them on mild evenings.”
My grandmothers were my oracles, my wise women and nothing ever shook their love for me. I was not always an easy child. I hated hypocrisy and spoke up about it. I hated injustice and that was good for a rant. I am a survivor of child abuse. My mother was my abuser. My grandmothers were the center of my universe and the anchor in my turbulent seas. They listened as I poured out my pain and fear and anger. Their love kept me alive and going forward. I needed to tell people so that grandmothers know how vital they are to their grandchildren. I have nine grandchildren. They are the sun and moon, the celestial music to me. I am so lucky to have them in my life. If you have read my about page, you know the many things I have done in my life. Being a grandmother is the most important and the most fulfilling.
To all of my readers and friends who are mothers, aunts, or grandmothers, know you are the tree of life in the world of your little ones. It is a position of honor so celebrate this high honor.