|Me & My Mini-Me's:LTR Sim, Katzu, Me & Tafi Dec 2011|
I wish that for myself as well since the relationship I shared with my grandmothers was at the best "aloof".
After reading her post, she inspired me to think about my own grandmothers & the lessons I've learned from them.
Things I learned from my Grandmothers:
#1 : That being a single mother is not the end of the world. Whether by death (as in the case of Gramma Katie, who's husband died) or divorce (as was the case with Gramma Lama, who's husband divorced her so he could marry another) it's not the worse thing that could happen to a woman.
Life goes on. Love goes on. We keep on keeping on. Because that's how we do it.
I am a single mother at this point of my life because of divorce. I would have preferred to NOT be a single mother. But divorce was something that one of us wanted & that the High Court of American Samoa was kind enough to grant. Prior to my marriage & subsequent divorce - single motherhood was the result of Decision.
Both of them raised their children without college degrees, without husbands and without losing their damn minds in the chaos of being a single parent. BUT they didn't do it alone or without cost. Some costs are only seen in the faces of the next generation.
#2: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is always there. Rain or shine. Rich or poor. Stick to the church & you can't go wrong. That's a direct quote from both of them.
By the time I got to an age of inquisitiveness, both my grandmothers had developed a deep & abiding & stoic faith in the LDS church. Now whether or not their belief in the church translated into a powerful testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel, is a different matter. I can not say. Did they live their testimonies? I guess so. I can not assume. But if one of their beliefs is that families are forever - perhaps they are saving their best & strongest energies for reparation & restitution & repentance for the next life. I've seen the consequences & damages both of these women have done on their spouses, their children - their families.
#3: Girls are not as important or valued as boys. Daughters are disposable in a way that Sons never are. I've seen the daughters of these women bear the scars of this callousness towards them. Daughters, these women born from their bodies reflect back at them in brutal clarity the consequences of their choices. Daughters they could not have survived without in the post World War II era.
Watching their homes, it was Boys get first pick, first food & first service.
Girls get slaps & work & periods & bills.
While neither of them may have cared to directly state so - this manifest in the way things worked in their homes. This may be cultural (since both were born & raised in Samoa) and it may be religious (both were fervent respecters of the priesthood, which only goes to males). I don' t know which one is valid - only that it was what it was. Women were second class citizens. Unless you were the given generations declared Dolly/Princess/Taupou.
And then that was a different matter.
#4: keep your house clean because you never know when people are coming by. Both of my grandmothers were serious die hard cleaners. They could put any Merry Maid OCD having germ-a-phobe to shame! Their homes could be small & filled with mucho cluttered food storage whatevers - but it would be clean, neat & orderly. I secretly believe that the reason they kept house so meticulously has to do with the number of Relief Society sisters they themselves criticised for having less than immaculate domiciles.
#5: reading scriptures should always be done in a group round robin style.
This is so that you can annoy the greatest number of people with the least amount of effort. And so you can practice literacy. And especially so that everyone can all feel better that none of you can say any of those complicated Book of Mormon/Old & New Testament names without tripping up on it twice. When I become a Grandmother, I fully intend to pass this tradition of annoyance down to my little guys! It's a privilege of age to annoy the young ones!
#6: praying until every one's knees hurt & our backs give out only serves to put all the rest of us to sleep. Seriously? Who really needs to pray for 30 minutes straight? 3 times a day? 7 days a week? God heard you. He knows your needs & your trials & your tribulations. Praying more & harder & longer isn't going to get God working on your case any faster or any sooner. He's on it already. Some times you've just got to go by the seat of your proverbial faith pants & get to it. He knows you're thankful. We know you're thankful. Thank you for finally saying AMENE! (OK. Now I'm just being juvenile)
#7: that if you pay your tithing GOD takes care of the rest of everything. This was another commonality that both Grandmothers passed down to me. Pay your Tithing. Without fail. Without grumbling.Without procrastination. Pay it & see what the Lord will do! I think its interesting that both of these women were absolute in their commitment to pay their tithing & when their finances permitted to also pay fast offering.
I remember several fast Sundays where they fasted & paid their fast offerings on top of their tithing. They did not share the whys of why they were fasting - only that it's Fast Sunday and what the hell do I think I'm doing eating breakfast & lunch? They are fasting which means WE ARE ALL FASTING.
#8: promises don't end with death. This one is specific to my Grandmother Katie. I believe that a mother's promise given to her son, which her son gave to me and which my patriarchal blessing stated & confirmed & which every blessing I've had since then repeats - reminds me that promises don't end when our bodies are silent.
#9: food makes many things better including grudges, fights & holidays. Both of my grandmothers were disposed to feeding people to make things better. Food it seemed was essential to paving the way to peace. Grandmother Katie preferred big feeds with big brimming pots of food at all hours of the day & night. She always had a lot of people to feed & she feed every one. EVERY ONE. No one was ever turned away from her food. She shoved food on to whomever & where ever.
Grandmother Lama baked. She baked her wedding cakes for hundred of people without ever charging what commercial bakeries were. She knew the people she baked for & never attempted to rob them in cheap ingredients or over pricing. She baked cakes for those she knew couldn't pay her & that was okay with her. I remember her one time discussing with her son how someone couldn't pay her to do a wedding cake & she said that's okay. I have a big cake order next week. It will take care of itself. (and it did)
The generosity of these two women in the communities they lived in is legendary. They gave more than food & shelter to whomever asked. They also gave freely of whatever they or their children had to anyone in need whether the needy asked or not. They gave their time & love & wisdom to those who crossed their paths, however briefly or violently or casually.
Had they always been this way or did they have to learn to be this way? I can not say.
What were they like as girls?as young women? as young wives? young mothers? As my sister pointed out, by the time I met them, they were old already.
Their faith such as it was when I knew them had decades to percolate through the sieve of trials & tribulations.
#10: Love takes Time. This is my most favorite thing that I learned from both of them. That love takes time. And that time does not end when we die - any more than love ends with death. Those of you who know my story, know why this is my most favorite thing. My love story - like both of theirs is playing out on an eternal timeline, not just the here & now. Love takes Time & time is what I'm counting on.
Some day I hope that one of my granddaughters writes about me too. And what she better say is, "My Mamma Lu was a fierce faithful force to be reckoned with. She lived her testimony loud & lovingly. Sometime way too loud. I miss her. I love her. I thank her for everything."
Because that's what I think of when I remember my own grandmothers.
After all is said & done ~ they were fierce faithful forces trailblazing women who held their own ground & did not back down or run like cowards for someone else to fix their problems. They fixed their own sinks, mowed their own yards, worked a couple of low paying jobs to pay bills & did their own thing. They did it. They accounted for it. How can I not admire that kind of courage?
(Well, at least we know where all that feisty comes from now!)
With love & delicious Grandmothers~