The Seeds of My Strength: An Ode to my Grandmothers

Life has given me some of the most amazing blessings throughout my life, but recently it has also thrown me some serious curve balls and unexpected challenges. Like so many of my readers, I can say that I’m still standing, changing and growing. In the afterglow of International Women’s Day, I took some time to think about that with respect to the powerful women that have been in my life and influenced me to take what life hands me and make the most of myself.

Grandma Great

I was raised by a long line of spitfire women, women who understood the ‘bitter’ as much as they did the ‘sweet’. For me, this line started with my great-grandmothers. All three were determined and resolute in their professional and family affairs. Even though I’m just starting a new life as a single parent, they showed me that it can be done successfully. Two of my great grandmothers were single mothers in a much different time. One of my great-grandmothers was widowed after her husband died, and the other survived being abandoned by her husband and left to raise her daughter alone. Through less-than-ideal circumstances, the women in my family stood gracefully but firmly and took care of what was most important to them: their families. As a mom, that resonates strongly within me.

Nana

My grandmothers share the same tenacity. I’ve always considered my dad’s mother a quiet, middle-class woman with traditional values and an extremely mild temperament. She was the quintessential grandmother, always baking cookies and thinking the best of everyone with whom she comes in contact. Her demeanor in and of itself is a gift, but I found out by chance one day that there was (and is) so much more to who she is. Leaving her house a few weeks back, I happened to glance at her college degree hanging on the wall. As I reflected on how awesome she was for accomplishing such an honorable task, I took notice of when she received it: 1987. It took a moment to sink in: I was born before 1987, which means she got her degree after she had grandkids! I was shocked! More than that, though, I was proud…proud of the woman that had gone through so much, gave so much, endured and conquered so much. Yet, she continued to push herself in her later years as a mature woman. What was that even like? How did she do it? It couldn’t have been easy.

Grandma

But nothing of any value or worth ever is, and that is one of the many silent lessons they taught me through the glimpses of their struggles and accomplishments I see now as an adult. I knew my great-grandmother was a successful travel agent who led tours around the world, as well as running a book and gift store. I also knew that my other grandmother was a relentless missionary who, on so many occasions, braved the very real chance of imprisonment to get Bibles into Cuba and other countries. These are my grandparents!

Great Grandma Eddy

Through them, I learned to achieve beyond others’ expectations and perceptions. I learned the value of working for myself and carving my own paths in life. I learned to stand up for what I believe in, and to stand with others who are doing the same. I learned that learning is living, and living is a choice that I get to make with each choice that I make for myself and my boys.

Grammy

My grandmothers taught me these lessons long before I knew what to do with them. These ladies are the backbone and blueprint of all that I know to be as a mom, an entrepreneur and a determined woman. I can only hope and pray that they are proud of how I am walking out their expert tutelage as I maneuver personal circumstances in my day-to-day living.

And I hope they know how extremely proud I am of them. #SheInspiresMe

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