One of the greatest gifts this journey has given me is insight and remembearnace of the amazing women in my family who have gone before me. When there were times I didn't think I could keep on or wondered how I would make it through, I would remember some of these women, pull up my big girl panties, and trudge forward.
The first woman that came to mind was my Great-Great Grandmother who had one son and was married to an abusive man. She left him. That sounds easy but we are talking about a time before women were even able to vote and when women were considered little more than property to their husbands. A married woman up and leaving her husband for any reason just was not done. But my Great-Great Grandma did and if she had not I would not be typing this very sentence. When she moved on, she met my Great-Great Grandpa LaTulip, who adopted her son, and had other children with including my Great Grandmother.
Then there is my Irish Great Grandma who was feisty. I was very lucky to have known her for a handful of years before she passed on and I have a several memories of her and great stories about her from my uncles and aunts. She was a very strong, no nonsense, but witty woman who I hope I can conjure enough gumption from in these upcoming days.
Then, not long after I told my dad's side of the family about the divorce, I received an amazing email from my Aunt Sue. I have thought about it often over the last several months. She listed a long line of women who I know and knew growing up who have shown great strength, determination and gumption. The list included my Great Grandma Kesler (who apparently ruled the roost of her house and was very determined) and Great Grandma Quatsoe who took care of her three small children while her husband was off fighting in WWII (props to all those military moms!) I cannot imagine trying to keep a family going and not being able to get in touch and know your loved one is ok in the amount of time we can today. Then there is one of my Great Aunts pulled her young children out of an abusive marriage and raised them single handedly, not an easy thing at that point in time. And my Great Aunt Marilyn, a nun who was voted by her order to be the provincial twice for her order (that’s the equivalent of a Cardinal for a man). She has made many important decisions and had the honor of being chosen to do so.
Then there are my Aunt Sue, Aunt Jane, Aunt Katie, and Aunt Lori who have all been successful women who have overcome their own adversities but who have all been amazing examples of strength, wisdom and encouragement.
And last, but certainly not least, there's my own mother. I was Kian's age when my mom and dad divorced. My mom was a stay at home mom and only had her high school diploma to fall back on (I am lucky having my Bachelor's Degree). I know there was a time when we were on food stamps and a time when mom had to borrow money to buy groceries. My sister and I never knew these things until we were adults. You know why? Because my mom never left us needing for anything. As a child I know I couldn't see it, but I can imagine the confidence that grew inside of my mom as she put one foot in front of the other venturing down this new path of life. My words do not do justice to the amount of strength I pull from my mom in thinking about how she made it through this time in her life. But one thing I told myself over and over again when I would get scared about what would happen was, "if my mom can do it; so can I."
I'm going to end this post with a quote from my Aunt Sue's email to me because I think it sums up exactly what I am trying to say.
"Your DNA comes from this legacy of women. Up until now, you haven’t needed to draw on it. I’m sure you will find it now that you need it. Set your goals, put one foot in front of the other; while it won’t be easy, you can do it."
All these women are my Foremothers who have provided the torch to light my path ahead.