She was not an easy woman, by any stretch of the imagination, but she was a strong one. that husband who went off to war came home and they divorced so, she continued to work at 'the shop' and raise her daughter. Her mother came to live with them. She wasn't an easy woman, and her life didn't soften her at all. If anything, it hardened her. Then one day something magical happened...she became a grandmother.
As much as she could be a difficult woman, she loved her grandkids. My memories of "Nana" are spending weekends with her and "Papa" her friend. I remember things like being shushed during Lawrence Welk, colored popcorn, sitting on her lap and reading countless books...and Sunday dinners.
I loved those dinners. Mom and Dad would come to pick us up, stay and then stay to eat dinner before we all went home. Sitting at the table, surrounded by family...it was a wonderful part of the week.
When I got older, I lived in Nana's upstairs apartment with my daughters and husband. One day she asked me when she died, what I wanted her to leave me. (My grandmother was pretty sure she had one foot in the grave for as long as I could remember.) I told her I wanted that yellow teapot. For me, it represented those weekend meals...it represented family at the table together.
Long story short, she pulled the teapot out to wash and give me shortly thereafter...and broke it. I was in the upstair's kitchen and heard a scream, the heartbreaking sobs. I ran down the stairs two babies in arms, to find her staring at the shattered pieces of that teapot. I told her it was alright and helped her clean it up. But I was sad to see that tangible reminder of those happy weekends shattered.
Months later, my husband and I went to an antique show. Now, I should explain that my husband was working full time and going to college full time. We didn't have a nickel to spare. If I complained there was nothing in the house to eat...there was NOTHING in the house to eat. And so we went to this antique show to look, not buy. But then I spotted it. It was my grandmother's teapot...well, its twin. It cost ten dollars, but the dealer said I could have it for seven dollars. I had seven dollars and change in my checking account. I knew we couldn't afford it. But my husband said, buy it. And I did.
My grandmother made Sunday dinner (which was good because all that was left in the checking account was the change) and that teapot sat at her right. She poured all of us tea, even my toddler, who had hers heavily laced with milk. And there was a new layer to all the memories of other Sunday dinners.
And since then, my family has been known to spot another piece of Hall china that goes with my ugly yellow teapot and buy it for me. And when I look at my unintended collect, I tend to think of my own kids and I remember how that gift of unconditional love just keeps on giving. My kids might occasionally drive me nuts, but I love them as completely as my grandmother loved me.
Being a mother is more than biology...it's about love. And unconditional love that sustains you and supports you. I hope you all have a woman in your life who gave you that kind of love and support when you were young. To all those women in your lives, and to to all of you who are mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, mothers-in-law... to all the women who love completely I wish you all a Happy Mother's Day.