Monday, March 26, 2007

Women Who Have Shaped Me: My Greatest Cheerleader

Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1926, the oldest of nine children, she stands tall at 5'9". A good three inches taller than any woman in the family before or since. Perhaps, though, this is part of what made her who she is. She stands out a little, always does things a little differently. A little against the grain.

When I was nineteen, and head over heels in love with my college boyfriend of a whole six months, who my Grandmother is really hit me. "You have plenty of time, poopsie" (one of many unexplainable nicknames), she would say. And after thinking about it, I knew she was right. Just because all the girls I'd gone to high school with and soon after the set I was in college with wanted to rush out and get their MRS. degree, it didn't mean I had to. After all, she didn't. And she did quite well.

At eighteen, when the majority of her schoolmates were looking to settle down and start families, my Grandmother went to secretary school. She would eventually land her first job -other than working on a farm for her entire childhood- at the office of a prestigious Hartford attorney. She was a good secretary, and the lawyer paid well. "I had all my own things, all my own outfits," she brags. "A pair of shoes, purse and gloves to match every outfit." Ah, yes, we are related. Not because of the materialism (though I'll admit, it's there- she's an Avon lady, for heaven sakes!) but because of the freedom. We've both had a taste for it and both took advantage of the opportunity.

I think this, more than anything else, might be what connects us. Our independence and sense of adventure is a common thread between us. For her, it's a reason to cheer. For me, it's encouragement to keep going. Through her, I know I can do many things with this life. I'm not solely dedicated to one path. She went to Cape Cod in the Summer, I'll go to the islands. She made friends where ever she went, I'll strike up a conversation with just about anyone. It's that attitude, that bravery- she has it, I want it.

About thirty-five years ago, my Grandma started selling Avon. This was while she was raising six children. In that thirty-five years, through teething, hundreds of colds, puberty, graduations, marriages, divorces, births of grandchildren and more, she has never been out of the top five in sales in her division (or maybe it's called a chapter- she would kill me for not knowing this). She has never tried for anything less than success, even when it's been tough. She has made a life and a living off something most people might just do for extra cash. She knows the difference between just selling to a customer and creating a relationship.

Which brings me to why I admire her most of all. She's an incomparable friend. She cares like no one I've ever seen. She's the kind of thoughtful that they'd write in an instruction manual titled "How to Be a Best Friend, Confidant, Caregiver and Helper to Everyone You'll Ever Meet." But there's no manual for her, it just comes naturally. And I remember this all the time. When I let a friend talk about their troubles, when I hold someone's hand, when I write a note just because, I think of her. I think of all the ways she's gone out of her way to let people know that someone cares, and I try. I might not be good at it, I doubt I'll ever be as good as she is. But if there's some way to ever show her what I've learned, it's got to be that I try. Which, when I think about it, is also what she taught me to do.

This post is part of Bre's idea to write about women who have shaped us during this Women's History Month.
(I slacked last week, sorry Bre!)


Backofpack said...


brandy said...

I loved this! Man. I'm turning into such a sap reading everyone's posts about the women who changed them. She wounds like an amazing woman.

Joe said...

Great tribute. Apparently, your G-Ma's good qualities continue to run in your family.

Ginger Breadman said...

"she has it, I want it" - perhaps because you're not on the outside looking in, you're not seeing how much you already are like her. She sounds like an amazing woman and a true friend and inspiration. Great post.

justacoolcat said...

YAY! for Grandma.

Bre said...

So very lovely! She sounds totally amazing and I can see where you get an awful lot of your fabulous qualities from!

skinnylittleblonde said...

Beautiful! What a wonderful woman to have in your life! She is truly amazing & luckily, apples don't fall far from the tree! What a blessing to have someone as strong & sincere as her in your life!
Excellant Post!
And Thank You for sharing!

runliarun said...

I don't know if it's me or my grandmother (or my grandmothers), but I cannot think of anything halfway inspiring they ever told me. No wonder I am such a cripple, emotionally.

GirlGoyle said...

I've always had a very conflicting relationship with my grandma. I think it was mostly the difference in age, her being born in 1913. Boy those must've been different times. Your post was great. And we already knew she makes wonderful cookies too. I guess she inspires you on all levels.