Written for Mother’s Day, 2008
There are a lot of remarkable women in my family who serve as role models for me on how to live as a woman and as a mother.
I come from a large family — between my father and mother’s sides I have 10 aunts related to me by blood, and have had five women who are my aunts by marriage.
I could write volumes about my maternal grandmother, Ethel. She continues to amaze and inspire me with her passion for life and learning and her devotion to her loved ones.
On my father’s side, my grandmother Jacqueline passed away when I was 8. I treasure the few memories I have of her. I remember her mother, Blanche, better. She was with us until 1997, although dementia took her away earlier. I have three great aunts, each a unique and lovely lady who speaks her mind and shares great family stories.
My father has two sisters. One died before I was born, and I have been slowly solving the mystery of who she was and the choices she made. His other sister, a gifted musician, lives in the U.P. with her teenage son.
My mother has eight sisters, ranging in age from their mid 60s to early 40s. It is always fun to see them together. Each is unique and beautiful in her own way, but they are undeniably sisters.
The bonds of sisterhood extend beyond blood. My mother’s three brothers have brought more aunts into my life. My oldest uncle married a lovely woman whom I am getting to know much better as an adult. My youngest uncle’s first wife holds a special place in my heart. The end of a marriage doesn’t cut the ties of the heart. I look to her as an example of how to raise sons.
There are the aunts I adored when I was a child, and still love dearly. There are other aunts who I appreciate more now that I am an adult and a mother myself.
My grandmothers and great aunts lived through the Great Depression and World War II, and raised children though tumultuous times. My aunts and mother are Baby Boomers, and have grown up and lived during a time when the role of women at home and in the workplace has been redefined.
The women in my life are survivors. They have been widowed, served in the military and fought leukemia, breast and other forms of cancer.
The women in my life have been through many of the issues women are faced with — from infidelity, domestic abuse and divorce to unplanned pregnancies, miscarriages and giving up a child for adoption.
The women in my life are teachers, business women, homemakers and much more. Some of my aunts and my mother are now grandmothers. One is a great-grandmother.
And there is my mother, who has worked as an advocate for children caught in custody disputes and for the victims of crimes. Her compassion and caring humble me.
Turning into your mother is not the insult I pretended it was when I was a teenager.
Mother’s Day is Sunday. Celebrate the women in your life and give thanks for their compassion, care, hard work and self-sacrifice.
Most of all, give thanks for their love.
Since I wrote this, my beloved Aunt Kathy and Great-Aunt Helen passed away, as did a family friend who I love dearly.