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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Inspiring Women Series

Today I'm linking up with Cherie over at HeartandSoulReflections
for her Inspiring Women Series and I'm going to write about my grandmother.

My maternal grandmother, Violet, was 90 years old when she died. We often say that it was grief that ended her will to live. She had just lost her beloved son and just stopped eating and taking care of herself. We all grieved for the loss of one who was a true matriarch in our family.. but I should really start at the beginning.

My grandmother was a strong, resilient, resourceful woman. She had eight children, the youngest was two years old when her husband died and left her at the ripe old age of 45, a widow, with no true means of income. Ah, but Granny was such a resourceful woman. She didn't just sit by the window and cry like some of us might have done. She didn't even turn to the support of another man like others may have done (and from what I've heard she could have). She did everything she could to take care of her family. The older children chipped in to support her. My uncle, Kenneth, left school and took a job, my aunt left the nunnery and came home.

Granny raised chickens... all my life she had chickens (they'd come in through the back door if we left it open and mess on her floors and peck at her toes) They were more like pets than anything since Granny could never bring herself to eat one or even their eggs. She did, however, sell eggs to make ends meet back when my mother was a little girl. Mummy often talks about the lean years and how they used to eat whatever was growing in the garden.. sometimes they ate it for every single meal until that crop was finished. She also did cakes and actually made a few of the daughter's wedding cakes. (I believe my love of baking came from her ;-) There was no end to the resourcefulness that she employed to support her family.

Granny was one of the most frugal people you could ever meet. (I think I also inherited her frugal ways) She learned to save money, via the Credit Union and a form of savings called a sou-sou, which is basically an agreement based on honour whereby people pay into a fund and each one collects a 'hand', which is the total of all the payments put in. She actually sent 3 of her daughters to Catholic school, which was very expensive in those days. She saved and built some properties which she rented out to make money. Of course, this took many years to do and her children are the ones who benefited as they inherited the fruit of her labours.

She was devoted to her faith and heavily involved in her church. Granny would walk 6 blocks to church every day. She did that all the way into her 80's until her eyesight started to fade and it became dangerous for her. My memories of Granny picking out a bible verse for the day has never left me. I think she inspired a basic faith in me that sprouted and blossomed as I grew. One of my most vivid memories is from when I was about 9 years old and I had been accused of stealing by my teacher at school(if you knew how strict a disciplinarian my father was you wouldn't even think it!) I had been devastated and so afraid of what the repercussions would be, especially if nobody believed me, I would get punished by my father as well as the school. I remember telling my grandmother that nobody would believe me except God. That touched her and she immediately went to the bible.. I can't tell you what verse she got now, but she took it straight to the principal, who was a nun, and I was vindicated that day because of my Granny's faith.

Granny lovingly took care of us, my sisters and I, while my parents both worked. Her house was a hub of constant activity as all the grandchildren (and we were a huge bunch, at any time there would be at least 10 of us there) would meet there everyday and she would give us lunch and afternoon tea (school was right next door). She had a heart of gold and, even though she wasn't always verbal in her affections, she had so much compassion. She would constantly be helping others, even her grands who were struggling. She was always taking loans to help them out.

Every time I think of Granny, I think of running through the rain to get to her house and being stripped and given hot tea and a big old housecoat to put on and put into bed. We FELT her love.. even though she got grumpy sometimes and quarreled. It couldn't have been easy on her to have all these rowdy children making noise, writing on the walls of her house with chalk to play school etc. Yet, she was always there for us.. standing proudly at my wedding day, holding my babies, giving me little pieces of herself to cherish. There is so much I wish that I had taken the time to learn from her.. her knitting and crochet, her embroidery. I still cherish the pillowslips that she gave me for my hope chest, lovingly embroidered by her own hand and a dress that she had crocheted for me when I was a little girl is kept like an heirloom to pass down to my daughters, whichever one wants it.

She has left behind her a legacy of love and faith that has inspired so many of us and a huge family. I am so happy that at least two of my four children were able to know her before she passed on. Even the third child who was en utero knows stories of Granny and believes she 'knows' her. Perhaps Granny was in that spiritual realm where an unborn babe could hear and see her.

She taught me to be strong and independent. She never lost her independence and totally resented giving it up, even when she was ill. She lived on her own and did everything for herself, right up to her illness. I thank God for her wisdom and instruction in my youth and for the strength that she has passed on to me and my sisters and, indeed, all of her grandchildren.

I pray for her soul everyday and I know that I will see her in heaven. I thank God for the blessing and inspiration that she was to me.

Rest in peace Granny.. until we meet again... you live on in our hearts and memories


Cherie said...

What a wonderful and tender tribute to a grandmother who gave her family everything! Thanks for sharing her with us!

Jessica Heights said...

Your Granny does sound quite inspiring! What a blessing to have such a woman in your life!

Anonymous said...

What precious memories...a very beautiful and touching tribute to your Granny.