Wednesday, May 6, 2009

# greatgrandmother

She was the most influential woman in my life!

If you've been following my blog for a while, you know that I've talked many times about the most influential and pivotal woman in my upbringing. My greatgrandmother Ema. Without a doubt, this woman was one of the most important in my life, apart from my mother and my stepmother and grandmothers, my greatgrandmother Ema was around me most of my life, she was there during the scariest and happiest times.

I would sit for hours at the kitchen table, with a cookie in hand and a cup of tea with milk, listening to her voice. This soft, sweet and sometimes demanding and strict tone, but for the most part, I sat there entranced by her stories, the things she had been through which were for me not only interesting but sad. I felt immense sadness listening to her talk about her mom passing away when she was just 4 years old, how she became the woman of the house, cooking and cleaning and taking care of her father, setting the table and sitting down to dinner with her own glass of wine when she was merely 8 or 9 years old.

See nowadays we look at that and think "are you kidding me? I wouldn't give my child a glass of wine" but for some reason, it seemed to be acceptable back then. It stuck with her, she drank that glass of wine for lunch and dinner EVERY.SINGLE.DAY of her life until the day she died.

The reason I'm talking about her again is because while speaking with Jasmine yesterday about my childhood and the family, it struck me again just how blessed and lucky I was to have such a woman in my life. To know that from the moment I was a wee little one, she had such a positive impact on who I am today.

She didn't sugar coat things, you won't ever hear me say that at any point in time, she glossed over life and marriage and having children. Far too many times she flat out said "it's not easy, it's life" and I thought to myself, well that doesn't make me really look forward to anything. But just as quick she would smile and she would go on about how much she loved her husband, my greatgrandfather.

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She was but 16 years old when they got married and he, a strapping handsome 29 year old. I think for her she saw a way out of the life she was living. This was a girl who lost her mother at 4 years old.....came home from school at 13 years of age, walked into the kitchen, and found her father dead. He had hung himself....and if that in itself wasn't traumatic enough for her, she lost her older brother to a fishing accident, where he got struck by lightning. I mean this could all be part of a movie or book but it's not, it's real life and the fact that she survived all this just shows what a strong woman she was.

We used to talk about marriage and motherhood, what it entailed, what it would be like and what was expected of me as a wife and mother. It's all things that nowadays I tend to think about and wonder if I'm giving my daughter the right advice, the right idea about life without making it all seem peaches and cream or really hard to deal with.

So I guess to me the best thing is to do what my Greatgrandmother did for me, tell me the truth, not lie about anything and answer all my questions as fairly and truthfully as she could, even on those subjects that would be taboo. I still remember the day she tried to tell me about her wedding night, she described it as "I was so nervous, I was shaking, the bed was shaking and nothing was happening...YET". Hahahahahahah

She talked about modesty and romance and mother duties and how to clean a home, when to have dinner ready for your husband and what pots and pans are best for cooking this or that. Stuff that maybe at the time I thought was completely unneeded by me, I mean I was young, what did these things matter when right after we were done chatting I would go back to playing with my dolls or painting pictures and waited for the dinner call, which I didn't have to prepare.

But I am so glad I kept all that information tucked away inside me, there are so many days that I go back and remember some advice she gave on how to clean something or home remedy and apply it to my daily life. Tried and True Advice from this amazing little lady who lived such a full life surrounded by family. She never stopped smiling and she never stopped working, she puttered around the kitchen with her walker until her last days, she cooked, she cleaned, she gave out orders from the table, she asked for specific meals or a little favorite snack.

She had her rituals, she had to have wine with lunch and dinner, she had to have tea with milk and toast for breakfast but coffee on Sunday's.....she always had a banana or something else after her meals, usually Saltine crackers, and she always used butter, pure, yummy butter, no such thing as margarine on her bread.

And you know what? I soaked all that in, all of it, even things I thought I had forgotten, I go back to and remember and I'm so thankful for that, my only wish if I could change anything, is that she would be here today, so that I could call her on the phone and ask a question or advice or even just laugh about a mishap I had or something I did at home that was dumb.

I am going to try my best to be that woman for my daughter, to be the pillar of strength and information that she will carry with her for the rest of her life, the kind of things she'll pass on to her own children. I don't think I'll ever be able to match the unbelievable, amazing woman that my Greatgrandmother was, but I'm sure I can do her proud.

So I want you to take a moment and think about who that woman was for you, who was the most influential woman in your life and tell me a little about her, I want to honor them all, the mothers and stepmothers, grandmothers and greatgrandmothers or maybe it was an aunt or a sister, let's give them the praise they deserve.


  1. what a great posting.

  2. What a great heritage she has left you! I can't imagine going through all she did, but she kept going and lived to be a huge blessing to you. That in itself is a lesson.

  3. That's a wonderful reminder as we head into Mother's Day weekend!

    I had an "Oma" (grandmother) who was this kind of person to me too. I'm so thankful I did - and I miss her more NOW than I did when she died in 1991. I wish I could call her, introduce her to my family, and just bask in her wisdom as I enter new phases of my life now.

  4. Boy, I like this post, Sandra. What a wonderful tribute to this special woman. Your memories are so acute, and you do a terrific job relaying your experiences and her profound effect on your life. Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us!

  5. Wow thanks for sharing this Sandra. Right now it is 10:48 pm. I am sitting by the bedside of my great aunt whom I love sooo much! She is in a hospital bed in her home on hospice. I am staying with her tonight. She is a great woman. She taught my Mama many things that were passed on to me. I had the joy and pleasure of learning from her first hand in my young adult life. Thank you for this post. It couldnt have come at a better time.

  6. Mine was my mom....she was a pilot a biker and one tough chick her whole life until she got sick. She taught me to never give up and to speak my mind and stand up for what is right. I love her very much. It's hard to write this because she is in the hospital right now.

  7. Beautiful post Sandra.
    My special woman is probably my grandmother.

  8. What a beautiful post, about such a wonderful woman! You are blessed. What a beautiful heritage! Thank you for sharing! For it would be my mother! It hurts me to see her aging, and losing some of the spunk. But deep back in there, it's all tucked away! I need to reflect and bring way more out. Mom was the strength in her family, the glue that held them together. She still is to this very day! I call her often to ask her how did you do this or that. I dread the day, that I'll no more able to ask her the questions.
    Hugs and Love!

  9. I wish I had a woman like that in my life! I'm not boo hooing, but fact! She sounds like such a wonderful mentor! Giving you all the tools, in truth that you would need! And I bet that wine was red!

  10. This was amazing Sandra. I'm going to give this some thought and try to get a post ready for mother's day that will tell you all about the women who have shaped and influenced my life !! I have a few ....

  11. What a lovely tribute! Thanks for sharing!

    My grandmother has been very influential for me. She's been through a lot in her life, but has always been strong. I've learned so much from her!

  12. She was an extraordinary woman and really brave...great memories.... You could be describing my own grandmother. I still think about her too :) Kae

  13. Anonymous6:47 AM

    Wow what an amazing story. What tragedy, yet such strength!

    Beautiful Sandra.


  14. Such a great memory and reminder of her.To be just 2% like her would be an honor.
    My mother is my hero. She is the strongest woman I know.

  15. I am sure in the eyes of your daughter and future grandchildren you will be treasured by them as much as you treasured your greatgrandmother. Wonderful tribute!

  16. This is a beautiful and precious post, Sandra! From what you describe, she certainly was a strong woman. What a wonderful heritage she left for you and your family.

  17. What a lovely post about your great grandmother. I so loved reading it.

    The Raggedy Girl

  18. Anonymous9:40 AM

    Hi Sandra! What a beautiful tribute to your great-grandmother. Perfect for this Mother's Day. My favorite part was her telling you "It's not easy, it's life". That is so true. Sounds like she had more than her share of "not easy" stuff in her life. Bless her heart....and your's too.

    Happy Mom's Day. Debbi

  19. Anonymous10:13 AM

    I am so glad your up and feeling better! My Fav woman wasn't a woman. I didnt have any women in my life who moved me to my core. However, my grandfather did. The women in my life were always to busy for me, but gramp always talked to me and taught me things. He would point out ways 'real ladies' acted. Whenever he saw someting he approved of he'd lean over and tell me 'thats how a real lady speaks" or "a real lady is grace under pressure". I remember him reminding me after a tantrum "is that how a little lady acts?" His words were never harsh and I always wanted to impress him. He would encourage me to watch my gram and try to model her ways. He was the one who taught me to always be a lady.

  20. beautiful tribute to your granny..

  21. What a lovely tribute, Sandra. She sounds like she was a very special lady.

    My mom was my biggest influence in my life. After her I would have to say it was my Godmother. All our relatives, including my grandmothers, lived in Hungary, so they were not able to be an influence and my Godmother sort of took that role. She was a very forgiving, kind woman and I never heard her say anything bad about anyone. She was full of grace and I can remember many a time when I'd blown it that she would say, "Well, you live and you learn". Unfortunately her gift of sewing, she was a seamstress, did not pass onto to me, although goodness knows she tried to get me to learn.

  22. This was such a pleasure to read! It sure puts all the complaints we have in our world of convenience into perspective. It seems like today someone who went through as much as she did would be in therapy for life, not working hard to take care of a family and pass on lessons to her loved ones. I think a lot of women were that way decades ago--working hard and being a pillar of strength. Nowadays, there seems to be so much "me, me, me" and desire for convenience. You are lucky to have had someone to teach you how to be such a good wife and mother!

  23. What an absolutely beautiful tribute to a woman who has helped to shape you into the lovely lady you are today, Sandra. So many memories.... You are very blessed.

  24. Oh,Sandra... What a wonderfull post!
    I sat for a few moments afterwards remembering my Grandma. She had a life full of hardships and early deaths of her parents, too. On top of that, her appendex burst when she was 16 (terrible thing back then) and she lost her overies. She got a job working in the OB/GYN at Tuscon Medical Center. It was because of her job there that she was able to adopt my mom and uncle when their respective mothers died during childbirth. (Adoption was much different in the 40's and early 50's). She taught me how to deal with adversity, how to love life, and how, sometimes, God works in mysterious ways.
    Thanks for giving me a reason to reflect about her this afternoon!

  25. Bruno B9:16 AM

    Wow Sis... u kinda gave me a frog in my throat with this one. What a wonderful woman she was, and although she wasnt as influential in my life (being a guy who have a crap abotu this stuff... hehe) she is certainly someone I will never forget. How I wish my kids had met her. :(

    Thanks for the memories.

    Love ya...
    ur little brother.. :)


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