Influential women create a legacy for us to follow. These women can be well known and popular or they can be our grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters or friends. Where we gather our core values and integrity demonstrates our true selves. We owe all of these incredible women thanks for being in our lives and for being our influencers. I am not saying that all of them were perfect in their actions, in their words or in their love. But we are indebted to them for influencing us tob become who we are today.
I am so lucky to have had a rainbow of strong women in my life. Each of them has paraded their strength through their family commitments and through their life work. That life work consisted of loving in their own way and sharing their stories. The stories of their lives, their hardships and their victories have shaped me.
I have two incredible grandmothers who are no longer living in this world but who are still my side. My paternal grandmother, Alexandra, was the grandmother I didn't get a chance to really know as there were 26 of us grandchildren waiting for her cooking, her crafts or her quilts. But what I saw was a woman with an incredibly strong work ethic who raised two daughters and five sons in rural Saskatchewan. She was a pioneer in every sense of the word. Her gardens and her cooking sang of hard work and love. I remember the sounds and the smells of her 'summer' kitchen at the farm and the reams and reams of homemade egg noodles strung out on sticks waiting to dry. Her pantry or cold cellar dug deep into the ground always contained what seemed like millions of jars holding fall treasures like pickles, pickled lettuce, or canned raspberries. She would walk laboriously down the steep stairs into the ground and emerge with an armful of jewelled jars. My fall time is now spent filling my pantry with jars and jars of fall treasures. That sense of commitment to canning and preserving comes from my grandmother. I wish I had gotten to know her but through her caring and her example, the tradition of hard work ethic continues.
My maternal grandmother, Helen, taught me the power of words and the power of family. She raised two incredibly strong daughters who in turn raised 10 children. Each of the grandchildren holds a strength and powerful family connection that disagreements, miles and age cannot break. We learned from Helen that no matter what, you love your family. All 10 of us would spend countless hours at grandma's house playing games like Po-Ke-No and 31. Grandma always had time for her grandchildren. I learned what it meant to be a grandmother who loves her grandchildren unconditionally. And we were a motley crew to love! My grandmother worked until she was 65. She would trudge through the snow and the rain and the sun to catch a bus to work at the local creamery. There she worked in the butter department taking the machine wrapped butter, packaging them into boxes and carrying the boxes to the conveyor belt. I remember walking into the butter packaging department and seeing my grandmother work. She was so proud of her work, and her job. She had friends all over the creamery. Everyone knew Helen and everything about her grandchildren. Fridays were a big day for us as she would buy a box of fresh fudgsicles and make sure we got some. Friday nights were the best. Grandma cooked for us and we sat around playing games or watching tv with grandma. I learned about love. I learned about family. We all knew she loved us.
The legacy of strength that winds through our lives and through our thoughts is the center of who we have become as women. We spend money and time seeking out ways to improve ourselves, to be more caring, to be more efficient and sometimes to just be more. The world today is so very different than when we grew up. It is a face paced life filled with distractions calling us to move away from the core of what family means and replace it with things. Things and possessions aren't love!
As I move into the role of grandmother I think about what I have learned from my grandmothers. I think that if I can give my grandson even half of the love and the values I learned from my grandmothers then I will have done a good job.
We are a product of the strong women who have walked with us, journeyed with us and prayed for us. It is now our turn to be the example, the strength and the wisdom to leave others with the comfort of knowing us.