Recently I remembered a photograph of the three of us. Looking at this picture you would just see my grandmother, my mother and me. But look deeper into the story and you will see three generations of remarkable will, heart, and integrity. We were born in the 1920’s, 1940’s ,and 1960’s yet our hearts are as one! Each of us defying “the norm” of our era, choosing instead to follow something much stronger than society’s stronghold, other’s opinions, and our own fears.
My grandmother, a seamstress, was born and lived in europe. She married at a young age, as was expected, and was already widowed by the age of twenty one. It was also expected of widowed women in those times to not remarry and to mourn and wear black clothing until death. My grandma Rose so no sense in any of that. Her father found her work as a maid nearby. She lived alone in one room of a very large house located near her family home. This owner did not allow any children so my grandmother begged that my mom be allowed to stay at the family home and so my mom grew up there until the age of thirteen. At the age of thirty eight while working in a bakery my grandmother met a man there, a baker, and she decided to marry again. When her father heard this he banned her from her childhood home and he vowed to never come and see her again. And so it was. So she took my mom, she wed a forward thinking widower with children, she wore bright colors and together they built a home literally from scratch using the money my grandmother had saved from working all kinds of difficult and odd jobs. She was a true rebel of her era! To me she was an example of someone who followed her heart’s calling no matter the hardships she faced.
My mother was two when her dad died. She had seen enough injustice as a child and lived her share of poverty, cold floors and barely any food. Even though she was the next generation, when she met my dad who was divorced, it was frowned upon. And it never got better from there. She wanted to live life her way. She wanted a better life for herself and her family so in her twenties she, my dad, and I (i was four years old) immigrated to America where my dad’s brother lived. Mom and dad didn’t speak english but that didn’t stop her from dreaming of a better life. And she generally achieved what she set out to do. She created a good life, steady work and a comfortable home. It wasn’t easy leaving behind her mom, her country and everything known, yet the yearning for a better life was stronger despite the hardships she faced.
I never fit in no matter how hard I tried. I tried to be a good european but didn’t quite succeed. I tried to be the all-American kid but didn’t quite succeed. I tried to be a good wife, a good mother, a good daughter, a good worker but didn’t quite succeed. Somehow everyone seemed to play this game of life well but me. I, on the other hand, always had this idea that people should do exactly what they love. If you liked to build things, you should build. If you liked to bake things, you should bake. If you liked to work with numbers, you should be an accountant. And so on. Let’s say I never really found what I liked but I enjoyed serving others, so I served. I served others so much that I completely and utterly forgot to serve myself, heck, I even forgot there was a me! At thirty eight, just like my grandmother, I woke up to a new reality, my own reality. I remembered that there was something in me, a natural talent just like there is in everyone, just like I had always believed there existed in everyone, something so inherent, a totally natural talent just waiting for me to tap into and be. At about the middle of my life all pre-conditioned thoughts, beliefs, and ideas went out the window and all that was left in the midst of it was me, natural organic me. And I decided to follow it and see what would evolve. I had to leave my family, my daughter, my community, my house, my church, my neighborhood, and go in a totally different direction. I decided to follow my true nature despite the hardships I faced.
All three of us had a hard time and were frowned upon by family, friends, and community. All three of us wanted the same thing, to follow our Heart and Soul despite the hardships we faced. I come from strong women. We are rebellious!