The Matriarch


My grandmother, my mom's mom, had a heart attack Wednesday night.

First, she's fine. It was minor and she's feeling fine and her stress test went well. I don't yet know if they'll be doing angioplasty or anything, but mom is keeping me updated.

Secondly, I have rarely been so frightened.

I come from a very, very tight family, particularly the women. My mom is one of four sisters, all close together in age, and they all live in the same tiny town. As does their mom, my Grandma Lou. Their dad, Papa Gene, died over twenty years go, so the structure has been heavily matriarchal for quite some time now. Though all four sisters are married and have children, and some of the children are married or in pseudo-marital relationships, the backbone of the family is the matriarchal lineage, coming from Grandma Lou, through mom and her sisters, and down to me and my cousins (most of whom, again, are female). And my grandmother is every bit a matriarch, in the very best senses of the term. She's a truly amazing women, and one of my very favorite people on earth. I cannot stand the idea of losing her.

And I can't stand the idea of her getting frail. My family isn't just matriarchal in the sense of having a female line of lineage. The women run the show. From my grandmother down to my youngest cousin, Sadie, who is not yet five, we're in charge. We're large, tough, smart, hard-working. We are proud to be women, and there isn't anything we can't do. My grandmother worked for many, many years at a "tree farm," planting trees, sorting, harvesting, all of that very physical work. She didn't retire until she was into her 60s. And now, in "retirement," she puts in a harder days work than I ever have. She does a ton of volunteer yard care, mowing, weeding, planting, etc. for her church, the community center, her less hearty neighbors, etc. Shes takes care of people, and nothing much slows her down. The older she gets, the more my mom is like her mother, and the older I get, the more I strive to resemble them both.

Edited to add: I just got an email from my grandma. She's back at home, at her keyboard, feeling fine. Looks like, for now, everything is as it should be.


oh, grace, that's so scary! i'm glad to hear she's doing well now, though. please send her my get/stay well wishes...

God, that's so scary! I'm glad she's feeling better. Hey, Mary Lou, if you're reading this--stay well!! Hope you're back to your old self again soon.

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April 2012

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