Connecting the Dots

I have always been a girl that loved to find the connection between things.  Everything has a story to tell (and do I love a good story).  I am constantly crunching numbers in dates trying to find a recurrence somewhere, a magic number that keeps popping up, a significance of some sort.  I love to find out how many degrees of separation there are between new acquaintances.  I love anything that I can somehow connect the dots.  If something is familiar, then I must be able to organize it into a compartment and therefore have a deeper understanding of it faster.  Sometimes I am stumped.  Sometimes the story just doesn't want to be told.

My paternal grandmother was one of those mysteries. There is so much about her that I don't know.  She was a total enigma in many ways for me.  We didn't talk about her growing up years.  We didn't really talk about much.  I know much of her life was just the nuts and bolts of life; perhaps not especially entertaining, perhaps not worth talking about in her mind.  I struggled to find our common thread.  I think she did too, even though I knew she loved me.  She wasn't my specific picture of an affectionate, stand-at-my-hip-while-I-cook granny. 

One of eight kids, she left home at 15 and from the little I can gather, couldn't get out of there fast enough (her daddy wasn't exactly warm and fuzzy).  She was a nanny in her teen years, a housekeeper shortly after that, then a wife a few times over, a business owner, a real estate mogul, a mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother, and even a great-great grandmother.  She also survived polio, loved to dance, loved to play cards (I can't even talk about what a card shark she was in Euchre), loved good food, loved to play the organ (she totally had one in her house), enjoyed quilting and crafting, and had an affinity for clothes and shoes.  She was a fiercely independent woman.  She showed that being married certainly doesn't equal being dependant on a man.  To her it merely meant companionship.  After being burned early, she learned in a hurry to never rely on any man to take care of her.  Despite some crummy circumstances along the way she had a sweet spirit, an easy laugh, a wry sense of humor, and could dead pan a line while winking at you from the side.  She was also a ruthless business woman and her attention to detail and planning was never lost on me.

With her recent passing, I think about the great span of her nearly 89 year life and I am shocked (absurdly so) to find that so much of who I am came from her.  My uncanny ability to find the common thread has escaped me for too long with this Mamaw.  My grief is simultaneously tied to losing her and not ever knowing her the way I really wanted to.  My grief is always lightened when I can celebrate the legacy that the person I loved has left.  I am proud to say that the legacy my grandmother has left to me is that of a fighter's spirit and a hard won independence that I am learning how to navigate daily with a companion.  And just maybe some shoes, card playing, and food love for good measure.  Today I mourn the loss of the amazing life of my grandmother,  Bessie "Betty" Rudolph Jones, and celebrate her light and those cherished qualities that she has left to me.

 The history of our grandparents is remembered not with rose petals but in the laughter and tears of their children and their children's children. It is into us that the lives of grandparents have gone. It is in us that their history becomes a future. ~Charles and Ann Morse

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