I am lucky to have such a large family, full of amazing women. I have 8 aunts, all of them with unique personalities, qualities, and stories. From them, I’ve learned how to knit, how to grow vegetables, the importance of family, some of my family’s history, and so much more. Some of them have taken care of me during times in my life when I’ve needed support.
I’d like to honor the women in my life today by telling you about 3 of them in particular.
My aunt Eileen, who is my biological father’s sister, has been one of the most positive influences in my life and my lifeline to that whole part of my history I never really knew well, given my strained relationship with my father. My aunt Eileen is the kindest person anyone who knows her has ever met, I’m sure they would agree. She is a natural and tireless caregiver who knows exactly what is needed, the right way to do it, and just what to say. She inspires me to be kind, gentle, and graceful. Sometimes when things are rough, I literally ask myself “What would Aunt Eileen do?” or think or say. There has never been a time in my life where I couldn’t call up my Aunt Eileen and confide in her and she wouldn’t drop everything to talk to me–about anything! I don’t know if she knows how much that has meant to me.
My grandmom, who I call “Nan,” is a caregiver, too. From her childhood, she has always taken care of someone–or many someones at once. She had six children, in addition to caring for her husband and her brothers, and then her mother and her mother-in-law, not to mention most of her grandchildren at one point or another–or even all at once! And we were quite the handful, putting it mildly. My many cousins and I spent summer days in Nan’s narrow rowhome. Sometimes she’d leave my oldest cousin in charge while she ran to the Acme–probably for more ice cream (there was always a minimum of 4 flavors of Breyers at any one time), and in her absence we’d quickly turn the entire living room into a wrestling ring by de-cushioning her couches. Then we’d bodyslam and pin each other, careful not to break any of her beloved Hummels. Those summer days at Nan & Pop’s were some of the best days of my life, and certainly of my childhood. Nan has taught me how strong women can be, how fierce and protective. She is a woman who had little but made it feel big. Her home has been the gathering grounds for our entire large family, so many of my childhood memories are set there. Her home may have been small and our family large, but she made it work and gave me and my cousins so many wonderful, hilarious memories. One of my favorite things to do is hang out with my cousins and reminisce about the time we spent at Nan’s as children.
And what can I say about the woman who has most positively influenced me for the past 35 years–my mother. My mom was 17 and still in high school when I was born. Since then, she’s taught me, through her example, how important it is to take risks, to stand up for yourself, to take advantage of opportunities, and to create them where it seems none exist. She is ambitious, confident, hardworking, and successful, not to mention generous and supportive. She doesn’t realize how smart she is, in my opinion, or how much of a role model she is to me and others who know her.
I’m not sure any of the women in my life–all of my aunts, Nan, my mother, my sister, my sister-in-law, and the women in my husband’s family–realize how much they’ve influenced me, which is why I thought I’d write this post today. Thank you, all of you, for setting examples I try to live by.
Who are some of the influential women in your life? What can you do thank them?