A Dedication to my Grandmothers on Mother’s Day


“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”

—Naomi Wolf

 

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.”

—Marilynne Robinson

 

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.

 

Namaste,

Barbara

 

 

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life

Mother’s Day Proclamation of 1870


Mother’s Day Proclamation of 1870 – Julia Ward Howe

“Arise, the women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts,
Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears!
Say firmly
“We will not have questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking of carnage,
for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We women of one country
will be too tender of those of another country
to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes with
our own, it says ‘disarm! disarm!’
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.
Blood does not wipe out dishonor
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
whereby the great human family can live in peace,
each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Ceasar,
But of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
that a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient
and at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
to promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
the amicable settlement of international questions,
the great and general interests of peace.”

Photo by Barbara Mattio

For She is the Tree of Life


Photo by Barbara Mattio

Here we are two days from Mother’s Day and I have blogged about the original mother. Today I wish to pay homage to the Nanas, grandma’s, Bebe’s, and Grams in the world. Many of us benefited from the comfort, wisdom and succor of our grandmothers. I remember both of my grandmothers clearly.
One was English and we would have high tea in the afternoons. We would play bingo with her friends and I always won. I remember the toy box in the closet off of the dining room. She came over on the boat from England with her husband and 6 children to find a better life. I have two pieces of furniture she brought to America. I feel her spirit every time I look at them. She was a brave woman who did not find America’s roads paved with gold. I think I get courage from her and I am grateful for what she has added to my life

My maternal grandmother was the anchor in my life. I called her “gramcracker” and she took it with great humor. In my eyes, the sun rose and set on her yet I was aware she wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t either and we loved each other just as we were. She was a night person, a trait I inherited from her. She would sit in her chair and fall asleep. I would creep out of bed and sneak behind her chair and watch TV until the station signed off .( I am fairly old.) I am sure there were times she realized I was there and she never said a word. I learned unconditional love and acceptance from her.

Both of these women influenced my life and taught me to put roots down. This is something I do even when my life is in flux. When life changes, I move my roots. I wanted to share the importance of these women, who though in the twilight of their lives, enriched my life more than words can describe. What I learned from them is worth more than any amount of  money. They were the trees which gave me reflections of  who I really was despite anything else happening in my life. The love they gave to me taught me how to love others and that I was loveable.

Thank you to all of the grandmothers who have influenced the lives of their grandchildren. I hope I am half as good of a nana to my nine grandchildren.

 

“The very commonplaces of life are components of its eternal mystery.”
——Gertrude Atherton