My grandmother, we call her Mémé which is short for Mémére is one of my biggest role models, she’s no-nonsense, doesn’t take crap from anyone, and always has something to say. At 83 she’s just starting to lose her mobility and her marbles.
When I’m trying to describe my Mémé I always start with she was a nurse for nearly 40 years. Why I start with that I’m not entirely sure, she was a nurse but she’s not the most caring person you’ve ever met. My Mémé didn’t become a nurse because she had a deep need to help people she did it because that’s what women did in her day. I’m not saying she wasn’t a good nurse, she was, but she spent a lot of her life working the night shift and taking care of Alzheimer’s patients and it definitely took a toll on her. Needless to say she hates the idea that she’s not as sharp as she once was or that she needs anyone to help take care of her.
At 83 my Mémé is full of Catholic guilt and a love of gambling. She’s been divorced for 25 years, has four kids, 7 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren. Every summer she gardens, although at this point she mostly just pokes at the weeds and bosses around which ever family member goes out and helps her. She has a chubby white dog that is spoiled beyond belief and her motto is “I’m old, I’ll do what I want,” I wish I was kidding. Technically, she still lives alone but her house is sandwiched between my parents and my aunt.
I recently took a month-long trip to Florida with her and it was an interesting adventure. In the past I have actually lived with her, so I’m pretty used to dealing with her and I do honestly enjoy her company. Apart from it being an adventure, I learned a lot about her, my family, and myself on this trip and I’m thankful for every single minute I got to spend with her. Okay, maybe not all the minutes. More than anything though, this time with her gave me some truly wonderful stories and showed me all I’d learned from her over the years.
This series of posts, Lessons from a Matriarch, are the stories of me realizing those lessons and of our adventure. They are more than that though, they’re a reminder not to take the things your elders try to teach you for granted and to be grateful or even the most ridiculous things that they do.