Sunday, 12 May 2013

Granny, Nanny, Mom and The Motherless Child

My maternal grandmother was born and grew up in Bridgetown, Barbados. She married when she was sixteen, miscarried her first child, a girl, within a year, had four children by twenty-three and moved to Canada after the Second World War at twenty-seven. Her fifth child was my mother, born in 1947. She got a job with the Canadian National Railway as a seamstress where she worked until retirement in 1984. Her husband, my grandfather, passed away from cancer in 1994. She herself passed away over the Christmas holidays in 2007.

My paternal grandmother's parents were from England, but had most of their children in Canada. Not many from her generation went to high-school, so it was out to work in her early teens. She had married and had had her first child by nineteen. My father was her third child, born a few months after the end of the war. She  remained a housewife until she divorced my grandfather on that side in 1978. Other than some odd jobs as a cleaning woman, she never held a job from that point forward. Her eldest daughter died from lymphoma in 1995. She herself passed away from complications from a stroke last fall.

My mother's relationships with both her own mother and her one-time mother-in-law were stormy to say the least. There was always tension (racial as well as personality-based) between her and my father's mother, but it was somewhat muted after my parent's divorce. Her relationship with her own mother had deep resentments which were never resolved by the end of my mother's life and had been all but forgotten by the time her mother, suffering from Alzheimer's, died.

As for me, regarded as a "son" and "grandson" for so long, I often had tense relationships of my own with all three of them. Today, Mother's Day 2013, I find myself pondering this. As their daughter and granddaughter after all, I write this post as a tribute to them, as somber a tribute as it may be. In three different ways, I miss you all and although I had never those daughter moments with any of you, I am grateful for each you for giving me life. I will carry your determination to live life on your own terms forward with dignity and pride.

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