My childhood memories contain my parents, of course, but they also contain women I have come to refer to as my ladies (see this post titled In My Grandmothers' Houses) - caregivers when my mom went back to work after having me, and every year until I went to school, then summers and before/after school until I was old enough to stay home. I never went to daycare or pre-K. I went to my grandmothers' houses.
My Grandmom worked, so those duties were split among Mom-Mom (my great Grandmom) and Gamma while Grandmom was up the street to see after school and to take me to church on Sundays. Mom-Mom has been gone since I was 18. Grandmom died in December 2012, and Gamma passed away peacefully in her sleep around 2 am on Tuesday night. The last of my ladies to physically walk the earth has gone home.
What a blessed thing to have had all of them for as long as I did. As I got older, I saw them all less, as life happens to us and around us. No matter, though...they left their mark on me in my formative years.
I cried on the way to the shore on Wednesday afternoon. I felt adrift. Then I felt strangely happy because they are not only all around me, they are largely responsible for the pieces that make me who I am.
Mom-Mom gave me my love of soup and vegetables, my appreciation of independence and feminism, my steel spine, and my fuck it if you don't like it attitude.
To Grandmom I owe my knowledge that the only way through it is through it, my need for organization and order, and my utter delight in the little things.
From Gamma I learned that your friends are your family, the library is your lifeline, treasures are found in used paperback book stores, Ocean City is home, and that involvement in your community and volunteering gives you way more than you put out. Thank you, Gamma. Rest in peace.
All of these things are such a huge part of who I am and will continue to be. Not only do they never leave us, they live on in us.