Some time ago I wrote about the women in my family in, Raising a Glass to Strong Women. I talked about my grandmothers and my own mother, but a few things this past week have really opened my eyes to how capable and strong all the women in my family are. Last weekend I had the pleasure of spending time with my mom and her two sisters. Though I've known these women my entire life, I begin to understand them more as the years pass. It's amazing the things you can learn on a simple walk to the shops.
My aunt Charlotte was my surrogate mother of the summer, is mother to my trio of sister/cousins, and the rock of her family. She's always appeared to me to be the strongest of the women, perhaps because I never saw her cry. Trust me, we gave her plenty of chances and reasons. She was a disciplinarian extraordinaire, yet she knew how to choose her battles. She taught me to be able to laugh at myself and reinforced the lessons my own mother taught me. The difference being that my mother would watch me fumble and quietly, through pursed lips, explain that I would learn from my mistakes. Charlotte would flat out say, "Well that was stupid. I bet you won't be doing that again." I still have the scar from playing with that damned straight razor.
As I see her now, retired yet never retiring, helping her husband through his battle with cancer, and dare I say, mellowing with age I can look back and see that she is truly the backbone of her family. Her ability to stand up for herself is inspiring, and something I wish I had mastered much earlier in life. Her daughters reflect that sense of strength. That same strength has been passed to each of them, and though each have mastered a different aspect of it, all three have realized their inescapable fate as strong Saunders women.
Sue, the youngest of my mother's sisters was always the one I dreamed of growing up to follow in the footsteps of. She moved away. So I got that part right! I remember always thinking how glamorous her life must be. I found out when she visited how close to the truth I was! She worked in the world of fashion, had college education, and a beautiful home. With a ready smile and quiet strength, she has managed to raise two intelligent and talented sons. We can't fault her for not having girls.
Today you will find her selling electronics, and repeatedly assuring male customers that women can indeed know their way around that market. Her adventurous spirit continues to this day as she and her husband plan for a move across country, something new for that generation of my family. Striking out, unafraid of change, and embracing a new chapter in her life. I still want to be a bit more like her!
More than I've ever wanted to be like either of my aunts, it's my own mother who I wish to be like the most. I've written her story many times, and as much as I try, I still fall short. Perhaps with time? Perhaps with age? Regardless, I need only look to my sisters to see the impact of being raised by one of these power house alpha females, super heroes in their own right.
There is not a blonde or brunette sister in the bunch who hasn't proven their ability to juggle career, home, and family... and not without a fair share of obstacles I might add. All of them are intelligent, self-possessed women who can weather any storm, and tackle any project, and do it all with love. I should mention I also have a very strong brother who is a very manly man, incredible dad, and loving husband who learned to appreciate a strong woman. He had to get that from somewhere! ;)
I can see little bits of each of the women in my family in me and feel blessed to know them all. So here's to Zona, Charlotte, Nancy, Susan, Denise, Dena, Carissa, Linette, Beckie, Christy, and Jeana and the men who's heads they turn.