Mrs. & Grandma ‘T’

Mrs. & Grandma ‘T’

G-ma T

My oldest grand-daughter recently asked who my role model was when I was growing up. Instantly, my mind went to celebrities: Cher looks a lot like me, but she’s older and wears costumes I wouldn’t dream of trying to pull off! Gloria Steinem comes to mind as one of the most influential women to pave the way for women to pursue whatever career they choose. That detail mattered a lot in terms of Affirmative Action, that not-so-subtle nudge from the Feds that enticed the Teamsters to hire me so many years ago when I couldn’t even hold credit in my own name. Roseanne Barr, came to mind, just because there was a time when she was blabbing the things that made me smile inside ~like a secret code that a lot of women thought, but, being taught proper behavior, wouldn’t say our loud. And then, there were the women who write: Again, Gloria Steinem came to mind, as she founded MS Magazine, and was both vocal and verbal in her promotion of human rights. But then, a lot of other writers came to mind, and not all of them are women.

And when my heard-speak turned to contemplations of men as role models, the list grew longer than I would have ever guessed it could. There was the Teamsters Union trainer, Michael Ellsworth, who spent patient hours teaching me to smoothly shift, not grind the gears. And there was my Gestalt Training Groups mentor, Dr. Mack Gift, whom I adore and respect perhaps more than anyone I’ve ever been blessed to learn from and work with. It is Mack, to whom I owe my inward journey and my intact and flourishing self-esteem. And, as a pure “coincidence” of the Universal Joker’s mystical timing, it is to Mack, that I owe the strength that got me through the death of my son.

There are others, males and females along the way, all who have positively impacted my life, and most importantly, my sense of self. But in the solar plexus, in that grand BS detector we all have, there are two women who stand out amidst the flowers: One is Dr. Elree Harris, my college English/Writing professor who wrote just one line on a transcript: “Keep writing, you’re good.” Her four words got me through many a rejection letter, and the scribble is still front and center on my bulletin board, prodding me, egging me on when I feel like kicking back and drinking wine instead of facing the pages. (Of course we did that too!) It is Elree, to whom I owe the credit for the four (to date) books I have published (and a couple of hang overs).

The truth is that, albeit at overlapping times, both Elree Harris and Mack Gift put the rebar in me before the cement was dried. To have experienced both of these special persons, I emit endless ripples of gratitude. There is no way I can begin to imagine who I would be without their individual influences.

But it is Mrs. ‘T’ who told the jokes of Roseanne, had the feminist perspective of Gloria Steinem, and who feared nothing and taught me courage, as there is nothing to fear. Even greater than this is to have been blessed to have Mrs. ‘T’ as my Grandma ‘T’. This is a gift for which I give thanks for every day.

What is it about Grandma ‘T’? She was never a celebrity. Nor was she one of those knitting-type grandmas. Well, actually, she did knit slippers that she sold at the Senior Citizens’ Highrise, where she lived, but that stereotype of a grey-haired granny knitting in her rocker isn’t Grandma ‘T’ as much as a sailor on leave after a long period at sea would be. Grandma was the life of the party, and she said what she thought.  She was “God-loving” but not “God-fearing,” and she loathed a hypocrite. She was a lover of good coffee, of creative cussing, and of having a pocketful of skeletons tucked deeply away. Men loved her. Most women didn’t trust her. And she had distinct ideas of right and wrong and equality, and cared nothing at all of what others thought of her.

The funny thing is, as I describe Mrs. ‘T’ I notice that I could be describing myself. She had more of an impact on me than I knew, until just now as I write this. It’s a little “aha” moment about the truth in projections. I’ll ponder that in my own time….

Happy birthday, Mrs. ‘T’. I miss you, Grandma, and I hope you’re still hanging with the fun ones.

Who influences you? Why? Do you own any of their traits as being your traits?

~With love and light and gratitude. xox

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