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Grandmother. Just the very word paints a picture of an incredible woman. The mother of all mothers, the seed in the garden from which our families have sprung. It is her that sets the tone for our experience in life, it is her legacy we live from and carry on and she can inspire and influence us to become who we are today. 

 I remember my own grandmother, her tight bun and warm smile. Only once did I see her hair out of its bun. It was wild and long, beautiful, dark and full of youth. But I think she may have worn her hair the way she kept her feelings - neat, tidy, unseen and predicable. Beneath the surface there may have been so much more. 

 My grandmother raised four boys on her own after her husband died shortly after World War II. In the 1950s she chose to run the fabric shop her and her husband started and support her young family on her own. Everyone around her encouraged to give the business up to her eldest child my father, then 12, simply because he was a man. Despite public shaming and pressure to remarry and take her place as a woman in the small Maltese village she grew up in, instead she became the first women in her community to own and run a business. 

 It must have been a struggle to live by her values, ignore what the world had to say about her place as a woman in society and decide on her own path. But my grandmother was a strong, practical, smart, fair, funny, kind, warm woman who smelled like perfume and wore black to honor her husband, the love of her life, until the day she died. She knew how to run a business, raise a family and find time for her faith every day. 

 This was a woman who stood up against the patriarchy and refused to take a back seat simply because she was female.  Eventually she was beloved and respected by her community, especially the younger generations of women, as they realized what she had done and the difficulties that must have come with it.

 I learned from her that if you care enough about something, you will find a way to make that thing important in your life. 

 I learned the challenges and pressures of the world may have the ability to crush you but if you don’t crumble you emerge a diamond that shines for others to see. 

 I learned that just because the world hands you a difficult situation you don’t need to carry it for the rest of your life. You can deal with it and then let it go.  

 I learned you can be a joyful person and love others even if you have sorrow or grief and  that tragedies or struggles don’t need to define how you treat others. 

 Grandmother. Mother of our own parent. Hard lessons to be learned and shared when the time is right with the daughters and sons and generations who follow.  Grand women forging new paths to make more choice available for the people who come after us. 

Image by : Leigh La