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Dear Grandma,

I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. So I thought maybe I would take a few minutes today to tell you.  Sometimes you are in my thoughts because I just flat out miss you. I miss your laugh, that delightfully contagious belly laugh of yours that could be heard all through the house and lightened even the darkest days. I ache for your pithy piss and vinegar wit ( your words not mine) and your straight to the heart practical wisdom.  I long for the sticky hot summer evenings of sitting on the back stoop leaning against your legs as you smoke your last cigarette of the day telling me about your work and asking me about my school.  I thought then as I do now that you were the best grandma that any kid could hope for. 

There are times like today where I’d like to call you up or drop by for a visit. I would like to make you coffee and sit at the kitchen table and compare notes like we always did, to share my troubles, and to ask your guidance. I’d like to tell you about your grandchildren. You would enjoy them so much. All three of them have your sass. Rabia has the most though, she even looks like you.  They are smart and funny and well I like them quite a bit and just wish you had lived to be a part of their lives. I used to feel great sorrow that you never got to meet them, but even greater was the grief that they missed out on you. Until recently when I looked in the mirror one morning and saw you looking back at me. The laugh lines around the eyes, the smirk… all of it right there staring back at me. A delightful shock I’ll tell you.

In that moment I finally (only took me 53 years) realized that a whole lot of who I am I have you to thank for. The good and the hmm… let’s say quirky.  I have your laugh. It’s true, ask around. A full bellied, head thrown back roar.  I’m more silly than witty, but I do have my moments.  What I do think I have a smidge of and am the most grateful for, is your strength.  You were by far the strongest person I knew and most certainly the strongest woman.  A fierce and determined woman. A woman who kicked out her abusive alcoholic husband and raised three kids alone at a time when that was not only a difficult proposition it was also not the norm. You worked all kinds of hours to support them and yourself.  I remember when I was older hearing stories almost mythical about this brazen woman. I’ll never forget the day I realized they were all talking about you. You were an outcast because of the choices you made, still you stood by them.  Strong and firm.  You helped people no one else would. Opened your heart and your door. Generous and kind to a fault and with not much to spare.

Today grandma, is International Women’s Day’s centennial celebration. Yes, we are still working towards equality for women, still trying to end violence towards women (I know. I’m sorry.), and still working towards equal pay for the same jobs (to name a few).

Don’t get me wrong; things are better so much better then when this was your fight.  Thank you for that by the way. Still there is a long way to go. 

As I thought about equality, human rights, feminism, power and women today, you waltzed into my consciousness. How could I think of anything of those qualities without thinking of you? You taught me their essence.  So I want to acknowledge and say thank you for modeling what a good, strong, smart, funny, and courageous woman looks like.  A woman who will stand up and fight for her children and herself. A woman who is not afraid to be in the minority and will fight for what is right and good for her fellow humankind. ( I think there was a few cats and dogs in the mix too.) I watched you carefully. Even when you were afraid, you would give yourself a little shake, put your shoulders back, and move forward. Walking right smack dab into whatever current fire there was to put out or dragon to slay.

Grandma, to this woman’s little girl-self that was majesty. I never got a chance to tell you but I’m hoping you knew that you were my heroine. I am honoured to see even a hint of you when I look in the mirror and joyous to see you when I look into the faces of my children.

I do still miss you.