Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Good Genes

Happy Mother's Day!! (only a few days late...)

As always, some of my most inspired blog posts come while I'm procrastinating. Tonight I'm writing in order to put off my cardio session a wee bit longer.  It's been a long week, and the couch sounds oh so much more inviting right now.

I just passed the nine month mark in Saudi - a full human gestation period! And, of course, the accompanying sadness that comes with each month's mark is present. Perhaps fittingly, I came across a reference to Hattie in a very unexpected place today. The reference answered a few of my questions and raised a few more. They'll never all be answered, and justice will never be truly achieved. It's part of the horror that surrounds her untimely death. But I don't want to spend any more energy writing about it right now.

So on to happier topics, somewhat related to human gestation periods...

In honor of Mother's Day, I want to write a post honoring the women who have guided and nurtured me my entire life. To begin, I was named for a maternal great-grandmother, who unfortunately passed away before I was born. My middle name is a slightly altered spelling of my mother's middle name. I've always loved these connections.

My maternal grandmother turns 91 next month. She has numerous children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and, now, a great-great-grandson. Last summer all of the children and most of the grandchildren and great-grandkids all got together for a wonderful 90th birthday party. It was a fitting tribute and a wonderful time. And she even laughed at my wholly-inappropriate gag gift :-). Grandma is still going strong at almost 91, building phenomenal gardens and keeping up with the adventures of her many progeny. I love that I can always connect with her via email even when I'm thousands of miles away.

I was born the year following my grandfather's death, and Grandma had just moved from Indiana to live with my parents in NH. We were close from the start. I have a wonderful picture of me as a toddler playing in the sandbox with Grandma. She tells hilarious stories about the games we used to play. We've stayed close all my life, and she's been there for all the milestones.

Grandma decided to go back to school late in life, graduating with a BA when she was 69.  It's not every seven year-old who can attend their grandmother's college graduation! Fittingly, I also have pictures with her at my own college graduation. In a move that I'm sure somehow influenced my own wanderlust, Grandma spent a semester studying abroad in Greece. I must have been extremely young, but I remember when she came back and opened her suitcase of treasures. I have a habit of doing the same thing, and I'm sure there's a link.

There's more to tell than could possibly fit here, but these are among the first things that come to mind when I think about the amazing woman who is my Grandmother. Can't wait to see her next month!

Aaaaaaaaaannnnnnnddddddd an hour later...

(Is it completely sad when I procrastinate from my procrastination by actually doing what I was avoiding doing instead of doing the avoidance activity? Oh well. At least I got my cardio in.)

And now a few words about my mother. This is hard, because no amount of words could do justice. My mother has been there for me every step of the way. More importantly, she has consistently supported me in all my choices. Even if they weren't the best choices. But she let me make mistakes and learn and make better decisions the next time around. As an adult, my mother is my best friend, one of the first people I go to with happy news or sad news. She lets me vent about work or life or whatever and expects me to do the same. She's always up for an adventure, whether it be a relatively spontaneous trip to Texas just to see a concert or a planned- and saved-for three week sojourn in South Africa. She even agreed to visit me in Saudi Arabia. I'm not sure it'll work out to get her here before I leave, but it's the thought that counts.

Mom worked full time when we were young, while my Dad worked from home and was there during the day with my brothers and me. I think that role reversal was a powerful influence on me. While she may regret long hours and not always being at home with us kids, she taught me that it's possible to have a family and a career and work-life balance, and for that I am very grateful. I hope to be able to do the same someday with my children.

Mom and I have a similar sense of humor and enjoy passing funny internet videos or pictures between ourselves. But we both strongly believe that sending out chain letters or the like to large groups of people should be reserved for only the truly funniest items. (The same cannot be said for everyone in our address books.)

My mother also indulges my over-protective and worrying tendencies as long as I let her do the same. So when she and my father go on a road trip, she always checks in after safely arriving. Mostly because she knows I'll email or call incessantly if she fails to do so. Just ask what happened when they once unexpectedly stopped at Gettysburg for a few hours on the way back to NH from DC... I hadn't quite stooped to calling hospitals and the police, but it was close. This expectation stands when I'm 6,000 miles away too. I try to reciprocate whenever possible. Perhaps that's the best feature of my work Blackberry - the ability to check in from Sri Lanka when I'm having a computer-free getaway. (And to be fair, if my parents had added cell phones in their arsenal of portable electronics, the whole Gettysburg debacle could have been avoided...)

There's really nothing like sitting at the kitchen counter at home, watching my mom cook something wonderful, chatting about everything and nothing, and hampering her efforts by stealing cheese or cookie dough or walnuts or whatever when her back is turned. Even scarred knuckles from raps by wooden spoons aren't a deterrence. It's a timeless shared experience. One I'm excited to repeat in a few short weeks.

In addition, I have a whole collection of amazing aunts, cousins, and other important women in my life who I won't embarrass here. We're spread around the world and have all taken very different life paths, but boy is it fun to get together with them! So in honor of all of these amazing women, and all the women in your own lives, Happy Mother's Day!

1 comment:

Sara said...

What a sweet tribute to those amazing women. I only hope someone feels the same way about me one day.