Another eye-opener that I acquired from Tom Brokaw’s book, The Time of Our Lives, came from the chapter he dedicated to the status of grandparents, past and present. His observations were poignant and I began to think about my identity as a grandmother, especially as it compares to my own grandmothers.
Both of the ladies to whom I refer died in their sixties, during the 1960’s. Because I was young and didn’t spend much time with either during their last moments, I lost the irreplaceable ability to learn more about them. All I do know is that they were both born in eastern Europe, came to the US at the turn of the twentieth century, and had very little in terms of personal property or accommodations. Both had dedicated their lives to having and raising children, with the bonus of having grandchildren frequently around them.
Now I am realizing how much the status of grandmother has changed for my generation. My bubbes never experienced color television, cyberspace, or careers. During their lives, women generally grew up to get married; a few went to college to become nurses or teachers. There were no glass ceilings, women Supreme Court justices, or female corporate executives.
Their legacies were no worse than mine – they were simply and powerfully different. Bubbes taught me the importance of family and sharing holidays with those you love. They taught me the value of home cooking. They taught me loyalty, support, the value of simplicity, and the fact that American citizenship was an accomplishment to be cherished.
My legacies are similar – importance of family, home-cooking, and working hard for those values that are worth defending. Beyond that, those who follow me will know about women who work hard, fight for their positions in corporate America, and stand up for those causes in which they believe. They will understand that they can do and become whatever they choose, regardless of the opinions of naysayers, skeptics, or critics. And they will understand the experience of being loved unconditionally, with a power that is immeasurable. Shalom.