Starting today, I am taking part in the challenge of Blotgember with Jenni from Story of my Life. For the month of September she is providing prompts for post entries. As a dedicated journal writer, I am a huge fan of writing prompts and I also want to use this as a way of becoming more regular in my blog entries. (I have an idea for a post everyday but I’m finding it hard to sit down and create the post).
For anyone who is not a current journal writer, but would perhaps like to try, I encourage you to follow along with the prompts. I will also post other entries as I have been doing in the past and I also plan to link the prompts to my grief or what is currently going on in my life. This is a great way to do some life review and dreaming.
Today’s subject is to discuss who or what you come from and how I have become who I am.
This topic could take much longer than a simple blog post but I feel like my “Aha” moment regarding where I came from occurred when I was in one of my undergraduate social work classes. Every social worker is taught to do a genogram (a more intense version of a family tree) of their family. In this diagram you are to show who was married to whom, children, who died and how, if there were illness etc. It is from this that one is able to see family traits and patterns from a biological and coping perspective. Although I have been blessed to have wonderful male figures in my life, sadly most of them died early leaving their wives. It was after completing my genogram that I realized that I come from a long line of incredibly strong women. Some of those women I had the chance to know, others I have learned about through family memories.
I am the daughter of Elizabeth, Gladys, Edna and Barbara from my maternal side.While my father’s family is basically of British heritage and I have inherited their physical traits, it is my mother’s family (Scotch-Irish) that I am most alike. I hail from women who always worked along side their husbands, whether it be on the farm or in a business. These are women who raised vegetables, canned and cooked, and also made items by hand. (My aunt and I have found two cedar chests full of quilting supplies from my great grandmother) These are women who were independent (some way before their time). My great-great grandmother not only cared for her own family but also cared for others in her community who needed help by cooking them dinners and seeing that they were doing OK.
All had a fantastic sense of humor and knew had to have fun. It was not uncommon for each of them to play pranks or in my Nanny’s case, often tell long stories that often didn’t happen just to see what reaction she could get.
The reality is my life has been full of loss and it has been the women who were my constant. My father died suddenly and five years later my beloved grandfather (Nanny’s husband) died from a heart attack. It was my Nanny and Mom who were always there. My Mom made my brother and I the center of her life but at the same time she was often overwhelmed at being a single parent. Nanny was able fill in the roles that my mom could not. There was never a point in my life that I did not feel loved or supported.
Early loss in life made me more mature at a very young age and in the past I felt I had been cheated of a childhood. However, something I have realized is the importance of attempting to find meaning in what I have lost. Without a doubt, these early deaths led me to my career as a grief counselor and I have been able to have the privilege of walking alongside others on their own grief journey.
As I said earlier, this topic could go on for some time and I am providing a very abbreviated post. As I have gone through my Mom’s and Nanny’s belongings, I realize how extremely close they were and I’m not surprised that their deaths were so close together. I know that Nanny loved me but she knew I had the love of my husband and friends and that I would be OK. From those early deaths, I learned the importance of telling those I love how much I loved them, learning from them and taking from them the traits I want to carry on. None of us are promised tomorrow and it is extremely important to spend time doing what you truly want to do and who you truly want to be with.
As I stated in The Women on my Journey,
To these women I say bless you and thank you
From the depths of my heart.
For I have been healed and set free through your joy and through your sacrifice