This week, I’m gleaning yet again from women’s wisdom through the centuries. But I’m not reaching too far back today. In fact, I’m not reaching too far out either. I’m staying close to home; I’m gleaning wisdom from my girlhood home, even my girlhood house. Today’s wisdom comes from my mother, her mother, and my dad’s mother. Let’s hear it for generations of good women.
From my mother, Virginia, I learned that you don’t have to be loud or pushy to be strong. I watched her nurse my father through years of illness and to his death. Through countless hospital visits, intensive care stays, days and days of severe pain and medication-induced stupor—she remained although she was exhausted and her heart was breaking. I also learned from her that sacrificial love is part of our calling as human beings and as Christians. After Dad died, she nursed her mother until death and then her mother-in-law for three years until her death. Mom spent at least a decade pouring out herself for others. She has always maintained that faith and grace made it possible to do the impossible.
From my mother’s mother, Virginia, I learned that life is hard but that’s no reason to be unhappy. She grew up poor, survived the Depression years by migrating here and there for work, then worked in an ammunition factory in later years, and then worked at a hospital until retirement. She buried her husband way too soon, because a truck accident claimed him. She outlived all but one of her siblings. She never had a lot of money, but she would whip up a full, delicious meal shortly after you walked in the door. She was a feast-maker, and she taught me (by example—she wasn’t much for “teachable moments”) to be a feast-maker. No matter what is going on, feed people. Make a place at the table for them. Give them room to eat and cry and talk. Grandma Virgie was a storyteller, too, and she laughed a lot.
From my father’s mother, Lorraine, I learned to acknowledge my gifts and nurture them. She, too, survived the Depression and saw diminishment because of it; she had the gift of teaching but could not attend college and obtain a teaching certificate. So she spent her life teaching anyway—women’s Bible studies in her home, multiple generations of children taught in her Sunday school class, friendship and mentoring to friends, pastors, young people, and us grandkids. She quilted and baked and painted and created an after-school crafts program in our little town, just because she thought it would be good for kids to have someplace to go and something constructive to do. She was the first to see me as a writer, as a minister of sorts. She taught me that faith in God is the foundation for everything else.
There are many other wise women in my life—some of you post comments on this blog! But for today, I give you Virginia Lee, Virgie, and Lorraine—three women who have poured into my life plenty of love, courage, and gritty/lovely wisdom.
- Lend to the DDF community today your own word of wisdom. Try to give it in a single sentence.
- Feel free to post simply the names of two or three wise women in your life.