Wednesday, March 8, 2017

To My Daughter On International Women's Day- Honouring The Grandmothers/ Mothers/ Daughters/ Aunts ect., Grief, and The Strength and Legacy of Women

Our family watched Moana last night. (Light spoilers ahead...) At one point the movie deals slightly with the loss of a grandparent. I chatted with my daughter about this year and apologized for not focusing on her loss. My darling strong daughter replied, “That's ok Mommy, I understand this year the focus needed to be on Daddy. He lost a mom so that is understandable but (and she started to cry) a girl losing her grandma too is also a big deal. I wouldn’t mind talking about it more now - I know this year was daddy and that is ok but I miss my grandma. And I thought it wasn’t fair on the movie that the girl got to hug her grandma after her grandma died. It wasn’t fair at all because that was my favourite part of Grammy, her hugs,and I don’t get them any more. They should have at least had her ghost go through her instead of her arms wrap around her…it made me upset.”

My husband and I had discussed our same issue with that part of the film the night before. We gave the film grace for being a fantasy but we felt it would have been more appropriate for Moana to have a dream sequence of her grandma or have her hug go through the ghost of her grandma instead of an actual hug. It is not comforting for a child who just lost those physical hugs of a loved one to see that false projection. Perhaps it is only comforting for fantasies of those who have not recently lost because they get that false comfort and touching moment? In Moana, I loved that the heroine was strong and didn't fall in love to fulfill her story. A heroine who finds another expression of love is one worth celebrating. I am a true love fanatic but I am also a strong, feisty woman who believes that there are many beautiful ways to live life, so I was happy to see that portrayed. As the old chinese saying goes, "Women Hold Up Half the Sky."

Losing a mother has been so hard on my husband's soul, but losing a grandmother is also a sad tale. Grandmothers are often formidable and nurturing presences in our lives for those of us lucky to experience kind or loving ones. I haven't lost any of my grandparents yet. When I do, I know I will be devastated because in a sense, sometimes they're more nurturing then parents. I still want my maternal grandmother around when I'm sick or my family is under the weather because her nurturing is invaluable. My paternal grandma cheers me with her humour and attitude that I relate to. Losing a grandmother is a different kind of bond that's an incredible loss. Today I wish to both honour that loss and celebrate the grandmothers in my life. Both of the posts below I have received feedback about how they inspired others to think of the role their Grandmothers played, or to trigger fond childhood memories.

I wrote a Roots Series and in it I celebrate my Paternal Grandmother:
"Travelling in my mind to Grandma N's home, a province away, I am transported back to a time when worries were few. Fresh childhood smells like her house; rose petals, bread, warm carpet, bound books, and burnt metal from an electrical Westinghouse furnace. I would sit in front of that silver box in her kitchen, with a chair pulled up right in front, on cold nights in my slippers and PJs breathing in the furnace's dusty heat. Sometimes older basements contain that musty "old" odour but grandma's house has a freshness I can't seem to replicate. Maybe it was her many plants? A tradition I am now carrying. After years of unsuccessful attempts at keeping greens alive, eighty-two plants now thrive in our home. I was inspired by Grandma. She sent succulents in the mail. In front of my home sits a beautiful wild rose bush that she sent to me after my miscarriage. I can still remember opening the brown paper at the mail office and being slightly confused as wet dirt in a plastic bag came out with a thorny stem. Her note with her scrawled handwriting, quick remarks and looped signature warmed my heart. All I have to see is my Grandma's handwriting and I feel more grounded. When the wild rose blooms in the summer, I walk out my front door and breathe in memories. The fragrant rose begets my grandmother's bubbly laugh. Last summer when I was quite sick I would sit beside that rose bush and feel the comfort that happens to me each time I walk into grandma's house." (Continued in Link above)

Here is the Roots Series on My Maternal Grandmother:
"There is an aspect of home that can only be found in a smell. I am lucky that my memories associated with this are pleasant ones. The aroma of brewed coffee says, "You're safe, you're home, breath it in." The sharp tang of vinegar carries reminders of pickled beets canning and the changing season of fall. Cinnamon speaks of Thanksgiving and Comfort. Onions tell a tale of richness, satisfying nutrients, and a hearty hearth begging the question of what is under the silver lid. Since I have been five, Grandma T's house has always been less than a few blocks away. Currently, she lives in the front suite of my parents home. Each time I walk to that house I can smell the rich taste of home from the driveway tempting me to stop in and see what is cooking or baking, even if I can not eat it due to dietary needs, the smells alone are divine and a comfort to me. It takes a few minutes in her home to feel balanced again. I just need to breathe the air, say a quick hi to grandma, and go out the door feeling lighter than I was before..." (continued in link above.)

As I review these posts once again, I am awed by the abundance of amazing female figures in my life. And I also grieve that my daughter lost one of hers. She lost a woman who gave firm, perfumed hugs and deep gusty chuckles. She won't get to have her grandmother witness her big moments or tear up and say, "Oh are such a lovely, lovely woman." Shelley was full of compliments when it came to my daughter and she was extremely expressive of her pride in my daughter's looks and accomplishments, but more than that, simply celebrating my daughter's essence. She aided in my daughter's sense of beauty in the world. Grammy was my daughter's only knitting partner and sewing companion. She was a bubbling well of laughter and delight. She also learned in the later years how sensitive my children were and she honoured that sensitivity with a fragile sort of care. She was protective of their spirits. She began to ask about every emotion she was unsure of. In this, she taught my children another form of love.

Today, on International Women's Day, I wanted to make it more personal in regards to my daughter. I hope she can see the legacy through my Grandmothers and her Grammy (that she lost) as well as my mother. I wish for her to see all the different aspects of womanhood through her Aunties (mine and hers and all the greats she is lucky to know), her Godmothers, her Friends and my Friends and hopefully...Me. I feel she has a wealth of beauty to choose inspiration from both in life and the energy that has passed on to her in death. My best friend, blog and Instagram friends and cousins have shaped her in ways that are invaluable. She is a true Athena and she has absorbed fragments of each woman’s infusion of belonging that has graced our lucky lives.

I hope my daughter is fool enough to dream and activate her dreams into meaning. I hope she continues to pass down the legacy left to her; the strength and nurturing, feistiness and independence, love and belonging, and adventure seeking and root strengthening. I hope she honours her flickers of madness and is part rebel. I wish for her to make mistakes and messes and to not be ashamed when she does. I know that a part of every woman she has been honoured to know lives within her and she will add to that beauty with her own unique twist on life. I know that already she gives another meaning to womanhood to my already formed layers of Being. She has also shaped me and I celebrate her today. 

I also celebrate each and every one of you and the women who shaped you. If we are lucky enough to have you in our lives with boundaries and love than my gratitude extends deeply and extensively to you for living your life well. Being you is the best gift to give.

"Someday, when I'm awfully low, and when the world is cold, I will feel a glow just thinking of you...oh but your lovely with your smile so warm, and cheeks so soft, there is nothing for me but to love you..."

The world is sometimes cold but I feel a warm glow thinking of each and every woman that has been in my life. I think of their specific smiles, laughs that wrinkle their noses, or their silly or self confident ways and I am bowled over by their charms. Specifically, today, I am warmed by the memory of Shelley's laugh. I can still hear it. She had a loud, gusty, throw back your head kind of laugh with a hoot of pleasure mixed in. It stirred the heart and brought joy and I carry it's warmth. It brings both tears of sadness and of beauty and I just feel grateful to have my heart filled with tough memories like this. Bittersweet. A word that sums up both memory, emotion and women. Bittersweet in the best possible way with darkness and light, wounds and healing, contrasts and complexities, birth and death, delight and distraction, all that is nurturing and destructive. May my daughter experience it all with honour and gratitude. 

Song choices: Audition- Emma Stone and The Way You Look Tonight- Steve Tryell.


Anna said...

Wow this is a very nice one.Im teary while reading it.You're so sweet.And all the pictures are stunning.The best is when you are together with loved ones/family.😊👍🏼

S said...

I love the way you write . I feel that human beauty, emotion and sensitivity shines through your writing.I myself feel these emotions so deep within me and when you write, I not only relate to them but also fee as if you have helped me to uncover them and express them. I was moved by that rose incident (of your grandma posting that stem ) and the rose tree that you hold so dear to you. In fact, I have this very old desire to plant a big rose tree in my home one day when I get a proper place because rose is symbolic to me in many ways.
Both my grandparents are no more. But unlike you and your daughter,I was very little when they passed away and moreover, I never lived with them or stayed near them. We used to visit them once a year when I was very little. But I remember some incidents.
My husband often tells me that I am always dreaming about and am always in lookout for an ideal, grandma-like person that I never had in my life and that person is exactly the way you have described your own grandma ! A home filled with pleasing smells,sights, sounds, plants and flowers, warm,comfort, cosy atmosphere, reassuring words, safety, love...which I am always in look out for...
And just like you, I have also tried to retain some of that vibes in my own home even if I cannot replace those old memories.
It is so important to have that kind of feeling of safety and love and it cannot be described in words. The world is indeed a cold place and by setting up an ideal home, maybe we are trying to battle out that coldness in our own way. I sincerely wish that you and your daughter may carry the legacy of both grandmas so that the world will be a better place.
sending lots of love,

Kmarie A. said...

Anna: Thank you. I do love all the side pictures too and very true:)

S: Thank you. That is a beautiful compliment. I am glad you can relate and uncover and express them through the medium- that is the goal of my writing in general and since it did that for you my purpose in this one is complete:) :)
I love that rose tree.
I can not imagine life without the almost daily input of my grandparents. I know it is rare and a rooted different sort of beauty.
I could see how one would look for it if they do not have it. Yes I am very lucky to have that...I hope you find it:) Yes, I think setting up a cozy home is great service to the world actually. Thank you so much for this beautiful comment. Love K