This week will have been 4 months since the day that my grandma passed away, and I will be attending an art therapy workshop in which I am to bring a picture of someone close to me that I have lost. The workshop’s focus is on grief and loss and is to teach an approach to healing through the artistic process. I am a little nervous due to her passing being so recent and the wound being so fresh, but I believe this will be what will give me empathy for others experiencing loss in their own sphere.
Searching for a picture to bring brought up some of my thoughts and remembrances of my grandma. I even read her obituary for the first time this morning. Maybe it is just me, but what inspires everyone else about my grandma was not what primarily inspired me.
My grandma came from the generation where people always put their best foot forward and never, ever aired their dirty laundry. My grandma was no exception to this which made finding out about certain of her life events more interesting to me than ever. As a young women, and before meeting my grandpa she had married an emotionally and physically abusive man. She even had a set of twins with him that died in infancy. Determined to put that experience behind her, she packed her things up when her husband was away from home and fled several states away to start a new life. Today we know that many women don’t leave those situations due to fear of facing economic hardship. She must have been scared, but put her energy into reinventing herself. She went to work as a stewardess (that was her title in those days). She also needed nurses training to work in that position, so she completed that education as well. She later told me that chemistry was the most difficult subject for her to pass during that training. She said that she had to have a B to pass and she thought that her teacher had mercy on her by giving her that mark.
While working as a stewardess, she met my grandpa who was the love of her life. Having a family was important to her, but she made sure to be independent before marrying again. This is the attitude that she kept throughout her life. When finances got tight, she went back to work as a nurse and helped. This was during a time when working outside of the home was controversial. Again, she did what most women wouldn’t have. Her legacy was great. Her husband passed away making her a widow in her 40s. This, I believe, was her great disappointment–she missed her companion. Although she was alone, she lived frugally and independently and even left each of her children and grandchildren an inheritance at her passing. When I consider my sadness, I hope that I will also be one of those women who break the rules needed to thrive in a world that is ever changing. For we know, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Laurel Thatcher Ulrich