by Fiona Noonan, Book Launch Intern, DePaul University
March is Women’s history month, a time to celebrate women’s incredible contributions and progress. Today, I recognize all women worldwide in support of International Women’s Day. But Women’s History Month is more than just a celebration of the contributions of women; it’s also an opportunity to bring attention to the oppression modern women encounter throughout the world.
My own life’s story has only been made possible due to the many strong women who have overcome hardships and have shaped me into the woman I am. Two of which are my incredible grandmothers, Nancy “Nana” and Joanna “Jo Jo.”
Witnessing and experiencing the special bond of grandmother and their grandchild, I’m reminded of the importance of healers and guardians who help to promote and sustain inspiration and individuality within their grandkids. As a grandchild, who’s grown into a young adult, I understand better where my grandmothers have come through the advice they choose to share. It’s given me a better picture — a snapshot of where their roots lie. A grandmother’s wisdom stays with us for life; when someone like a grandmother touches your heart, it lives forever in your soul. That rings true for me and always will.
Grandmothers are an essential part of the fabric of a family, and they deserve to be honored on this Women’s History Month and on Mother’s Day just as much as younger mothers do. I remember asking my grandmothers questions about their youth and being genuinely captivated by the answers when I was young. I understood that everything in my life that I took for granted was not the way it always has been.
Five things I learned From My Grandmothers:
How to be strong.
My grandmothers have shown remarkable resilience in their lifetimes. Their strength and perspective have always been admirable and inspiring. I’ve seen them both go through challenging hardships. Whether it was a loss of a partner or manifestations of physical pain, they have continued to show tenacity and strength throughout my childhood.
Given me direction, wisdom, and valuable perspective.
Many things can only be learned through decades of life experience, and grandmothers have this privilege. This abundance of life experience means that my grandmothers are a great source of advice.
My mother shared a piece of my advice, my great grandmother, Marcella, always told her that has stuck with me:
“Never go to sleep angry. There is always an opportunity to communicate how you feel and resolve conflict with those you care about.” Marcella, 87
They are trustworthy figures that grandchildren like me can go to for advice and comfort.
Sometimes teenagers just need to talk to somebody who isn’t their parent. Maybe we don’t see eye-to-eye with a parent on an issue, or perhaps feel stuck and need an outside perspective. Sharing struggles with a parent figure might feel like it automatically triggers an immediate ‘parenting’ response, whereas sometimes, all that’s needed is to talk through the situation. Grandparents serve as a suitable sounding board and secondary source of support for struggling teens. Young people may want to turn to their grandmother at times for advice, a hug, or just someone who will listen.
They are women with style.
Both my grandmothers are women who know how to dress. Even my great grandmother, Marcella, never left the house without perfectly matching down to the socks. Both my grandmothers have shared old clothes and shoes of theirs they no longer wear in the hope to give them a second life (items including an incredible pair of authentic handstitched cowgirl boots thanks Nana! And another gorgeous blouse from the 60s thanks Jo Jo!)
As someone passionate about fashion and who loves finding pieces from different decades, I was ecstatic. Grandmothers provide a unique perspective on how style has evolved and remind us of specific pieces that are timeless. My grandmother’s taught me how to walk with grace and have good posture. It was a good red lipstick, white blouses, embroidered jackets for my grandmothers. All of which are staples in my closet today.
Together, they have created and inspired me to create memories that I will cherish forever.
My grandmothers have reminded me to live life unapologetically and that I shouldn’t let anything prevent me from achieving my goals and aspirations. This constant reminder made my curiosity and adventurous side in adolescence spark. Whether it was thrift shopping, cooking a new recipe together, or watching old movies, I will cherish the memories created by my two historians, having them serve as a reminder to make time for the things I love with the people I love most.
Love you, Nana & Jo Jo, forever.
I love making new friends! For anyone sharing their stories about the bond between grandmothers and their grandkids, tag us on @thegrandestlove on Twitter and @grandparentsunleashed on Facebook and we will share!