She sat in a green velvet chair, white hair in a bun, quietly reading, and saying very little of any depth. She called me her duckling, which was sweet, but we never had a conversation. When she went to church, her only venture out of the house, her husband drove. She did not drive or own a car. I do know she wanted to travel back to her homeland, Ireland, but was afraid to fly and never traveled. This was my Paternal Grandmother, Mary.
At first glance, we may think an old woman like this has little to teach us. However we may want to look and listen a little deeper. Grandma Mary was most importantly my motivation to take risks, go on adventures and have courage in every fear I face. I did not want to end up living with regret as I assumed she did. Whatever I am afraid of? Do it anyway!
However, she was once young, pretty, independent and smart. She was in the first graduating class of Lesley College in Cambridge. She was a teacher whose family had all died leaving her property. She owned buildings that she rented out. She had a vocation, career, and substance. Back then however, once you married you turned all your money, property and independence over to a man. She gave it all up for love.
Mary also suffered from anxiety. Which no one talked about. She was surrounded by men, a husband and four sons and one daughter. Her mother and sister had died young. She had no support of other adult women. No counseling and no medication. Women had hard and few choices shaping their lives that we do not fathom today. So I learned that before we judge someone’s worth in our lives, we need to hear the whole story. It turns out I learned a lot from Grandma Mary!