~September 24, 2019~
I just went on a hunt for my Reiki books and was flipping through one of them, when little gem fell out. It is a photo of my mother’s parents, when they were young. Maybe even before having 7 children.
I am struck my the sadness in my grandmother’s face. My heart aches for her. It’s only been recently, after an insightful visit with my aunties and currently reading (a LIFE CHANGING book) “The Dance of the Dissident Daughter” by Sue Monk Kid, that I am developing a deep appreciation of who she was and how she suffered.
I was lucky enough to her apart of my life well into my late 20s. Next to birthing my babies, witnessing her death, although sad, was the most profound and strangely beautiful experiences of my life. But after her death and most recently, I long to know her story.
Who did she want to be when she was a tiny girl? What were the naughty things she did as a kid that her parents never found out about? What were her dreams? Who were her best friends in school? Who was first crush? What was her favorite color? I ache to know all the things that made her who she was.
I recently learned that she left school at the age of 16, to take a job to support her family after her mother contracted TB. I know that after getting married and starting her own family, she took in her baby sister, making sure she finished high school and got her through cosmetology school, when her mother died. I know she traveled 3 1/2 hours away regularly to take care of her other sister dying of cancer. Leaving Gramp and the kids to tend to the farm. I know she woke every day cooked and baked, cleaned, did the laundry, tended gardens, mowed lawns, worked in the potato house and in the fields, attended church every Sunday, taught Sunday school, and so much more. I known she was an amazing aim and could out-hunt most men. I know she loved Christmas, babies, her flowers and her family fiercely.
But I have a deeper ache, respect and love for this women. She served the religious patriarchy without question. She was a “good Christian woman.” She served her God and a church, that told her she was less than for being a woman. That men were better. That woman should learn to be silent and submissive, and not to have authority over men.
I witnessed this play out in my childhood with my grandfather, my uncles, and my male cousins. I know it was never her intention to make me or anyone feel less than. Or maybe she very aware of it but felt she had no choice? She constantly said “I love all my grandchildren equally.” Now I’m wondering if that was her way of reassuring herself,or perhaps giving the middle finger to the patriarchy? Which would be hysterical, as I think of this.
As a child, I never felt that I was good enough for her, because I wasn’t a boy. I never doubted she loved me, but I was felt like her love was stronger for my male cousins. I did not have the capacity to understand or unpack all the control and influence the power of patriarchy had on her. But through some deep insight from this book and stepping out of my own hurt, I understand where it was rooted from. I have developed to such deep love, connection, honor and respect for this women who suffered, struggled, and ached. But was a warrior that showed in the face of challenges, oppression, grief, and pain, for her family and those she loved.
I send her beautiful spirit, prayers of healing, peace, and gratitude. And I am honored to call this women, Maxine (Clement) Milbury my beloved grandmother. 🙏🏻❤️