My family is not a traditional family. I didn’t grow up planning it to be that way but it just happened. I adore every bit of our diversity and differences.
First there was my great grandmother. Lord I loved that woman and she adored me. She had ten children, one of which was my grandmother. My grandmother had my father and uncle at a young age so he was actually the same age as his uncles and I was the same age as my 2nd cousins. Growing up I never really made that connection but when I grew older it was definitely clear because my great aunts and uncles were so much older. When they all started passing away it was devastating. My great grandmother was an amazing woman. She was straight from Rimouski Quebec Canada and spoke only french. Every Saturday night generations of us would gather at her house after church. I have so many memories of activities, food, smells and dozens and dozens of cousins! She was hilarious and loved her own jokes just as much as everyone she told them to. Back then I could actually speak French because that’s what we all spoke in that house. I learned as an adult that she could actually speak English but chose not to because at some point she felt people were making fun of her for her inability to speak it perfectly. That broke my heart to hear because apparently people could not see through the words to see the amazing woman she was. The matriarch passed away at the age of 80.
My grandmother (father’s mother) was a huge part of my life. My mother and father had me at a very young age also. She was a huge influence in my life since my parents were so young. I was her sunshine – no doubt about it. Even when I was 13 and my parents divorced, she was still in my mother’s life for so many years afterwards until my mother moved away. Once she lost her husband when her children were very young, she spent her entire working career at US Button Corp – she could tell me anything and everything about buttons! When I was old enough I took my grandmother on a trip every single summer – just she and I. We went to Cape Code, Provincetown, several destinations in New Hampshire and more. Anything my grandmother wanted – I bought her. Sadly she passed away at 73.
Then there is my mother. She had such a hard life but overcame it all. She lost both her father and mother at a young age. My father’s mother was the maternal influence after I was born. In my younger years she helped support the household by working in a mill. She wasn’t settling though – even then she wanted more. She went back to college (actually both parents did) and eventually spent the rest of her working life as a human resource professional. My mother is a very strong woman who has always bounced back from anything thrown at her.
I have two daughters – both adopted. Our oldest is 25 and youngest is 15. Our oldest had the opportunity of knowing my grandmother but our youngest never knew her. That used to bother me but I am serious when I say that even though I didn’t give birth to my youngest daughter – she is my grandmother reincarnated. When she was young and I would get frustrated she would talk to me like my grandmother and say “now now, when I was your grandmother, I would not have handled it this way”… Now if that doesn’t rattle someone to the core I don’t know what would. As she moved through her childhood and now her teens she no longer has those thoughts or memories but they would stop me in my tracks in her younger years.
What I have learned through these generations and relationships is that there is a strong bond between mothers and children. It really doesn’t matter if you gave birth or not. It is a unique bond filled with memories and love. Sam Haskell has a great book – Promises I Made My Mother which I highly recommend. My 25 year old is finally at the age where she can put the puzzle pieces together and understand why I, as a mother, did certain things and why most moms do. We all go through that period where we think – oh my I have become my mother…. Then the relationships change and become even stronger entering a new phase. And what have I learned? I come from generations of strong women!