The Women Who Built Us

March 08, 2021 By Carolyn Yoder

This month is International Women’s Month, and I am thinking about all the wonderful, strong women in my life.

My best friends are powerful women - one is a nurse who saves lives every single day, another has the biggest heart I have ever encountered in my life and shows her strength in the bold ways she opens up to the world, and another is tackling college while working full time and starting her own business. These women inspire me every day.

My mother is a powerful woman who not only recovered from life altering mistakes but used them to grow in kindness and teach me that humility is the strongest response you can offer the universe.

But I am also thinking about the beautiful women that are no longer with me - women who molded me as a young person, and never got to witness the way their words and actions shaped who I am now.

My grandma is one of those women.

In my experience, grandparents are special. They get all the fun of playdates and snack times and dance recitals without ever having to step in the messiness of actually parenting you. They paid their dues with their own children, and grandkids are exclusively for spoiling, cuddling, and laughing with.

My grandma taught me how to read at the age of three, taught me the lost art of writing in cursive, and built the foundation of my spirituality. Very few people had a bigger impact on who I grew into, and this month, as everyone celebrates the women in their life, I miss her just a little extra.

So today, I wanted to tell you about her.

My grandma was feisty. She was a woman of extremes (I definitely inherited that from her). She loved her husband with an intense passion, but she also fought him with an intense passion. She taught the Bible’s law of love to dozens of people, but struggled with her temper. She was immensely patient with me, answering all my questions with a seriousness no one else would offer a 5 year old, but she had no time for the mistakes of her own children.

She loved to learn and teach others. She was on track to become Valedictorian of her high school, until she started tutoring a young girl that no one else would help, and that girl went on to become Valedictorian. Grandma was happy to come second to her friend, and I always found that inspiring. What good is life if you’re not able to take time for others?

I took some beautiful things from my Grandma, but I also learned a lot about what not to do in life. She openly shared her regrets with me at a very young age, and I soaked in this message: Be kind, even when it is hard, even when you don’t want to, because if you do not, you will always long to go back and do things differently.

I wish I could tell her about who I am now. I wish I could show Grandma that I’m okay, that my life isn’t perfect but that I am happy, and that she helped me find that happiness. But she died 11 years ago, so I can’t tell her these things.

Sometimes I cry when I think about her and other times I laugh, but I feel like that’s the beauty of a relationship that changes your life - even when that person is gone and you’re swimming in your own grief, that relationship endures. At this point in my own grief journey, I am able to both miss my grandma, feel the pain of her absence, and at the same time feel overwhelmingly grateful to have had my time with her.

If that’s not where you are, that’s okay too. Every relationship is different, but this month, let’s talk about the women in our lives - those still here, and those now gone. Their legacies are worth celebrating!