I've hit a dry writing spell the past couple of weeks (as you can tell from my last entry, "thinking in pictures").
So I guess this is a very delayed Mother's Day entry.
I've been thinking a lot about my 95-year-old grandmother in the Philippines. Her injury, and her resulting weakness. Her hospital stay. She now has a tube for feeding...which really sounds much worse than it is, but we all think it will help. Now she is back home, and smiling, responding, and talking again. She is still tiny and frail as she has always been, but my parents think she will bounce right back when she gets the nutrients she needs.
My grandmother has such a calm approach to life. "Whatever will be, will be" is probably her mantra. She takes things as they come.
I've been thinking about all the women in my family. My mother, my grandmother, my great-aunts. All phenomenal women. My own family's "Steel Magnolias."
My mother... a petite powerhouse who's larger than life. Strong, fiercely independent, yet nurturing. She weathers any storm with so much grace and faith. She's a friend I can talk to for hours, whether face to face over tea or coffee, or through this amazing PC-to-phone technology (for which we are thankful..we just deal with the 12 hour time zone difference). She's everyone's friend, everyone's mom.
My grandmother... who used to tell the the best stories. Like the courtship between herself and my grandfather. Her brave encounters with the Japanese during World War II. How she cared for a large extended family with so little. How she always made sure everyone else had plenty and would insist at least 3 times that you have another helping of her delicious treats. My grandma, who at 94 traveled to Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, and the United States. And she said she wanted to go to Rome next.
My great-aunt Tita Vely, who I haven't seen in a few years, and who has recently become my honest-to-goodness "pen pal". I was pleasantly surprised to receive a handwritten letter in the mail from her a few weeks ago (I just love snail mail.). I wrote her back, longhand, 3 pages long. I told my mother about it and she said that Tita Vely always gushed about my "adventures" here when they talked. My mother says that Tita Vely has always had an adventurous side, which is probably why she was so happy to hear about my life here. She's beautiful and feisty, and she reminds me of Katherine Hepburn.
Then there's Tita Aida, another great-aunt. She always told the funniest stories during family gatherings on lazy Sunday afternoons. Her jokes always made me laugh so hard I'd start crying.
And my grandmother on my dad's side, who passed away last year. She raised my dad pretty much on her own when my grandfather died in the war when my father was a baby. She always came to the rescue when my brothers and I were sick, with her magical herbal brew.
And there are other strong, independent women in my family. I'll be turning 30 tomorrow and with that comes some reflection on what my life has been and where I am headed. With this gene pool I'm hoping to "grow up" to be like them. Or to have little pieces of all of them in me.
To the mothers (and other women) in my family - here's to you. To your strength, grace, and inner beauty.