Tis the time of year that much fuss is made over a jolly, fat man who says ho-ho-ho and knocks his job out in one night a year.
The real hero of the holiday season, the unheralded hero, may well be…your grandmother.
Blessed Are The Peacemakers Of Families
Years ago I read a scientific article. If the biological point of life is reproduction, the article wondered, then why, among all the species on earth, did humans place such value in post-menopausal females?
I immediately thought of my own paternal grandmother. Her name was Leona, but we called her Maw Maw. She and my grandfather lived at the “home place” and on either side, a quarter mile one way and a half mile the other, lived her two sons, and their families.
Why, the article wondered, was a person like my grandmother held in high value? Oh, I’ve got an answer – because she earned it! She was a one woman band, playing the instruments of peace, calm, patience, steadiness, and toughness.
Getting The Confession Out Of The Way
Once upon a time I was a little boy, and I swear upon a Bible that I did actually ask a rhetorical question that went like this, “Why did God make mosquitoes and little girls?” One was a pest…(comedic pause)…and the other was a giggling noisemaker.
Thankfully, I did not stay clueless.
Blessed, If This Is Your Family Story
Some families have matriarchs that are nigh unto angels among them.
She has the oldest and best marriage in the family. She is solid, and level, and proven. She holds her tongue, until you ask, and even then, she holds her opinion until you are ripe to hear.
She has time for everyone, and still gets her own things done.
She is the knower of all things in the family. Squabbles, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, marriage problems, work problems, health problems, kid problems, money problems, she knows them all, because she’s trusted as the keeper of secrets.
She is comfort, and peace, acceptance and belonging, her home is everyone’s home, her hug is for all, but yours alone.
She tells you things will get better, and that things could be worse, and you believe her, because she’s living her advice.
She is the switchboard of the family, and the keep tracker of birthdays and anniversaries.
She worries enough for all of you.
She loves the easy to love and the hard to love. She loves the good ones and the used-to-be-good ones. She accepts the runt, abides the odd, makes the best of bad stages and wrong turns and all the consequences thereof.
Her home is Home. Her hug is harbor. Her presence is comfort.
In that curious wiring of the female heart, she loves everyone, all and the same, and more than any can realize.
The hug-hug, the peck-peck, the tell-me-all-about-it, it worked for her children, it worked for her grandchildren, it works for the greats, and whether she realizes it or not, it will outlive her in the future matriarchs of her line, just as it was modeled for her by the RIP VIP’s of her life.
Some Matriarchs Are Never Promised A Rose Garden
Many a matriarch totes a harder load. Her marriage isn’t easy, or its over, or should be. There is sickness and lack, and death. Maybe not all the children have ten and ten…or can even count to ten…
It’s make do and get by, it’s too many people in too small a place. The view is down looking up, always watching the parade and never riding a float.
Everybody needs, everybody needs, everybody needs, and she does too. She lives the rubber band life, stretching, stretching some more, showing the family how to live with a burden. Today she stretches and holds, maybe nothing gets better, but the family makes it another day. Tomorrow she’ll pray for more stretch.
She isn’t perfect, but she doesn’t quit. She loses her temper, but never her love. She gets mad at God and then makes up to Him. She doesn’t have time for man foolishness. She’s got babies who have babies and her number one job is loving on the flock.
Who Fills Her Shoes?
Only when a matriarch passes does the family realize what they had. It is a great open wound, made all the worse, because the holiday season requires us to go through the motions of continuing the family traditions. We’re at the same house, but it feels less home. We sit on the same furniture, but it sags like our heart. The first Christmas without the matriarch is one of life’s hard places.
But the matriarch went through this too. With her grandmothers, her own mother and aunts. She became a matriarch because of void and need. All those years, she was training the next generation, as she was trained.
The first Christmas is hard and clumsy, the smiles are forced, and the happiness faked, but it is meant to be done, and felt, and survived, because that’s what matriarchs do…that’s how new ones become…
Blessed are the ways of life, and the mysterious power of the daughters of Eve.
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This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is brought to you by Eighty-one, where Uncle P can still hear his Daddy’s voice, on those Mother’s Day sermons, quoting Genesis, “It is not good that man should be alone…” The loss of a rib, the gain of a matriarch.
Other Bedtime Stories can be found on the Eighty-one Facebook page. Uncle P can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.