April 7, 2018

the inspiration of a simple woman

My nana and I used to wander the morning away along little hill roads and down to the sea. She didn't teach me anything on these walks, we were just together in old-fashioned quietness and a deep gentleness that came from her being a simple woman and me wishing to be one. A woman who found what she needed from wandering roads and being with her loved ones.




There have been many amazing women in the history of the world. Hypatia, Boudicca, the sister queens Mary and Elizabeth, Maya Angelou, Ursula le Guin, Emma Gonzalez, to name only a few. All have been inspiring in their own way. One of my own greatest inspirations was my nana. A simple woman. A gentle-hearted woman who never said a bad word about anyone. She knew the world did not admire her. She knew her ambition to be a homemaker and mother was not much valued. What did she do about that? She went on loving and loving, knitting for newborns, making scones for neighbours, waiting for visits from her family, living a small and simple life with a heart that was bigger than the universe. Like millions of mothers like her, she would count for nothing much in the historic annals of our civilisation.

But if I could choose between talking to Hypatia, getting writing advice from Maya Angelou, dancing in the Elizabethan court, or walking a dusty sunlit road with my nana, I would not hesitate for even a moment to choose the latter. To me, the most valuable inspiration of all is love. If women like my nana were upheld as powerful, wonderful inspirations; if they influenced our culture with their example, what a beautiful world this would be.


4 comments:

  1. I know some people may be troubled by the last sentence of this post, so I'll clarify my intention. I don't believe women should all go back to being homemakers, I don't believe it is a woman's natural sphere, nor do I discount the value of women scientists, politicians, etc. I was commenting only on women of deep, genuine character whose lives are focussed on love.

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  2. beautiful. Imagine being remembered like this!

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  3. my gran was a simple woman. not like my (rather frightening, to be honest) posh grandmother on my father's side...my maternal grandmother was everything the other grandmother wasn't: a shop-keeper's wife, a farm family's daughter, possessing a mere grade school education, devout if heterodox in faith, unfashionable, ill-read, unartistic, plump, unambitious, untraveled, plain of speech, unglamorous, sober (she rarely drank anything but tea or coffee), and unimpressive. yet it is her face, voice, and being that i will miss all my life; her love that was the only truly unconditional love i have ever known from a human; her care that profoundly shaped the person i am today. everything about her was honest, gentle, and nurturing. and so, to me, she will always be worthy of love and admiration, and it could be said that there is more of her character in me than of the woman whose artsy bent and hair colour i inherited, more than even i seem to have gotten from my mum and dad, in deep ways. when i had my own child, i drew on behaviours and characteristics of loving care that i experienced from my granny as much or more than anything i had learnt in my research preparing to be a parent; certainly more than i emulated my mother's parenting.

    you wouldn't have an intellectual conversation with my gran. she wouldn't wow a roomful of people in any brilliant way. but she was unfailingly gentle, kindly, and true. she knew much about the earth and its bounty, and how best to make use of it for food or health. she was content, patient, and loving. i cannot imagine what my life would have been without her, and i could never repay my debt to her for all the care she took of me.

    gladly would i see her contributions to the culture values as they should be.

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  4. The time with your Nana sounds perfect, inspiring and nurturing.

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