grandmotherThis is my grandmother’s cup. It’s small, just like she was. We had the same size hands even though she was 4’10” and I am 5’10”. She drank out of this everyday, says my auntie who gave it to me a few years ago with the note “I know you like a small cup, your grandmother did too.” Auntie claimed it when her mother died. Truth is, I didn’t really know my mother’s mother. When I started talking I proclaimed her “momma.” And so it was.
I never even met my father’s mother. She left her family when my dad was young. He saw her once more, briefly, in a parking lot when he’d just returned from Vietnam.
Whenever momma visited, she made me cheese omelettes and let me bunk with her on the fold-out couch, and joked about only having one breast, because “what does an old lady like me need boobs for?” I thought she was sooo funny.
I later learned she wasn’t emotionally available for her children. And of course, now from my grown up coachy place I wonder — was someone ever that for her? I don’t think so.
She didn’t speak to her mother or sisters for the 2nd half of her life until she got Alzheimer’s and her sister, who had dementia, moved to the same retiree-town in Arizona and they visited for lunch one afternoon. They’d forgotten they hated each other and talked as if no time had passed.
Momma also forgot she was on a lifelong diet (she’d always only peck at a few bites of anything) when she went into assisted living. She loved all the food there. She’d talk about it at length even when she didn’t remember us. Her dainty angles rounded out. She needed all new clothes. She was fat and happy. That’s how I knew it was her when I talked to a medium who said, “I thiiiink it’s your grandmother, but she keeps talking about lasagna?”
She also had a message for me that it was fine if I didn’t want to have children. That I didn’t need to fulfill anyone else’s wishes, just my own. That she supported my decisions. And that she’d visit me as a green hummingbird. She does. Often.
There are clearly some fractures in my matrilineal lines, which is perhaps why my women circles and friendships are so important to me and why I’ve always prioritized them. And why they must be circles of upliftment, love, understanding, empathy, joy and creation. Patterns of abandonment, betrayal, hatred and despair run in these roots and I will not continue them.
I do feel the absence of elders in my life. I do my best to find them around me, but as my beautiful teacher, Julia Frodahl, suggested, I could be becoming the elder I seek. That idea brings me comfort.
You know I think about inner children ALL THE TIME, but more and more I think of my inner elder.
So I ask myself regularly:
- What does it mean to become a good ancestor?
- Am I becoming one with my thoughts, energy, and action?
- How am I breaking the pacts that must be broken so we can evolve?
I’m certainly working on it.
Small cups and all.