Sunday, December 17, 2017

No.61: Lessons from Two of the Most Amazing Women I Have Ever Known

2017 seems to have been a year filled with declarations of "Girl Power!" and the rising up and acknowledgement of amazing women.  I feel so fortunate that I don't need to look far for extraordinary examples - I only have to look up my family tree.

I lost both of my grandmothers this year: my Nana in March and my Memere yesterday morning.  They were both strong women, funny, fiercely loyal, and passionate about family.  Below are three lessons they have passed on to me, although I truly could write a book. 

Thanksgiving 2017

You can do hard things

Both of my grandmothers had countless curve balls thrown at them throughout their lives.  One was a widow in her 30's with three young children to suddenly provide for.  One came from a large French-Canadian family, loved children and yet struggled with infertility.  In their later years, my Nana would suffer from dementia and my Memere would spend years in debilitating pain.  And yet, after (I'm sure) many tears and prayers, they both faced their days head-on and made the most of a less-than-ideal situation.  If they could survive such heartache, overwhelm and pain, then surely I can too.  I can do hard things too.

A joyful life affects countless others

The beautiful part of this story is that despite all adversity, they were two of the most joyful people I have ever met.  Happy and full of laughter and so passionate about people.  On the surface, you would never know the pain they carried in their hearts.  But their joy?  Their joy was contagious.  And everyone, from family to friends to acquaintances, could feel it. 
 

Family matters most

I visited my Nana, unknowingly for the last time, about eight months before she died.  We visited in a sunny sitting room in her nursing home.  Although confused by the dementia and unaware of who I was, my Nana gave me such a gift as she thoughtfully said, "So this is my family."  Even though her brain couldn't remember or comprehend, her heart knew.

My Memere's wish for a long time has been to have her entire family together with her.  We all live states away and with schedules and work and babies, it's been difficult to coordinate such an event.  But in a way I can only think was divinely inspired, we were all able to travel and see her this Thanksgiving.  We crowded into her tiny apartment (all 17 of us!) and shared a meal together.  We laughed and played with babies.  We joked with her and held her hand.  In just a few hours, we made one more memory.  And three short weeks later, God took her home.  What a gift that visit was, maybe even more for us than for her.

When I reflect on my relationship with both of my grandmothers and the countless memories throughout my 33 years, two words always jump out at me: love and home.  Growing up in a military family, they were our grounding point, our constant when life was always changing.  They opened their arms, homes and refrigerators.  They showed me that we choose to be significant pieces in the family puzzle, regardless of distance.  And that choice is an important one. 

So despite missing them both deeply, I rejoice that they are celebrating this Christmas with their Creator and I hold tight to the way their small, ordinary lives impacted mine.  May I live my life in a way that even remotely mimics theirs. 



Well done, my good and faithful servant.  Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities.  Come, share your master's joy. - Matthew 25:21


Wishing you a wonderful Christmas season, friends.  See you in the New Year. xoxo

12 comments:

  1. Ashley, I'm crying as I read this. Your grandmother's sound like amazing women, and I am so sorry that you lost them both this year. I love your takeaway of the words "love" and "home". Beautiful words to consider as we begin 2018 with our homes full of children we love.

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    1. Yes! I've been pondering those words for days. They're definitely inspiring me as I make my goals for the new year.

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  2. Ashley, I am also crying. Your grandmother, my Aunt Flo was dear to me and I will always remember all the memories we made and shared over the years. Your words are profound. Well said. I wish you a happy and healthy 2018.

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    1. Thank you. She was one of a kind, wasn't she? I miss her terribly already.

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  3. Ashley, Look no further than yourself to see the many attributes that they passed down. You are a nurturing Mom, a loving wife, and a caring daughter. All the things that they were too. We don't get to see you very often, but I want you to know that we are very proud of you and the person that you are. May you have a wonderful Christmas and a happy 2018.

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    1. Oh Aunt Margaret, thank you so much for your kind words. It means so much!

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  4. Ashley I don't recall if we've ever met, if we did we were both very young, but we are distant cousins. I have so many fond memories of Aunt Flo. Sorry to hear of her passing, it has been quite some time since I had seen her. I will cherish the memories of her with my grandmother and Aunt Rita. They always opened that refrigerator, that's for sure. :)

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    1. Sharon, so nice to hear from you! It's been so fun seeing and meeting so many cousins.

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  5. Ashley, I read your post earlier this week and I've been thinking about it and you all week. Such a beautiful tribute to them both and all the love they left on the world. How lucky I feel that they lived so as to have such great influence and shaping on You who I consider a friend and am ever inspired by. xxoxox sending my love, always.

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  6. I am sorry for your loss, Ashley. They sound like beautiful women. What a blessing to have such smart and loving grandmothers. Merry Christmas and have a happy New Year!

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    1. Thank you, Erica! I definitely have big shoes to fill.

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