As today is International Women’s Day, I thought I’d write about the women who came before me: my grandmothers.
I will always remember my Nana’s hands. She always had beautiful nails and the shade of opalescent pink on them never seemed to chip. I will remember them on the steering wheel of her blue Buick (before I stole her car keys). I would watch her turn the wheel from the middle of the big blue bench seat while she pretended the on-ramp to the highway was really us taking off in an airplane. I will remember them sitting on the step below me playing hide the thimble. A fierce guessing game she played with my brother and I when it was too hot to be outside. I will remember them holding a cigarette while she sat in her green leather chair making sure I didn’t put too much sugar on my Kix. She taught me that sometimes looking good can make you feel good, that milk and crackers before bed helps you sleep, and waffles are ok to have for dinner every once and awhile.
A well sewn quilt will always remind me of my Grandma. I spent so many summer days on the floor of her basement sewing room watching fabric become clothes. I can close my eyes on a stormy night and remember playing cards with her at a table lit with an oil lamp, because that night the lightning made the power go out. I remember sneaking off with her to Sonic, because we were the only two who liked it better than McDonald’s. She used to scoff and say, “well” when I told stories. And she laughed at her own jokes. I will never forget walking into the beautiful dark stone church with her and watching her clean the wax off of the candle sticks for the altar, or the time I found her yearbook and realized that I look like her and finally feeling connected to that half of my family. She told me that I needed to go to college, be smart, be in charge and I’d be happy. She taught me how to cross stitch, how to find satisfaction in completed tasks, and how to put a pillow inside a pillowcase.
I never ate enough for my Grandma M. I remember her sighing about my still full plate while I went off to hang out with Pop and talk to the squirrels. She used to store food in mismatched containers and, I’m convinced, never threw anything away. I remember reaching for a box of cereal in her cabinet and finding rice instead. I didn’t get her in my life as long as I should have, but she showed me how to save, and reuse is better than waste.
Granny welcomed me into her family without even blinking an eye. She treats me like her own grandkid and I’m so grateful for her support. She hugged me hard when I lost my grandma and told me to keep the memories. And when my husband (then boyfriend) left for 9 months for a dig, she pulled me aside, grabbed my hands and told me “this will be awful – but you’re strong, you’ll get through it.” I remember sitting up late at the kitchen table while she told the story of how she and granddad got engaged and their first date. I look forward to hearing even more of her stories and sitting outside with her while we both read.
These are the women who paved way for me, and have helped me grow. Remember, empowered women, empower women and think about who has empowered you.