where do I come from?

I come from a long line of strong, independent women. The average life span for women in my family is about 100 years—and that’s just average! All of my great (great) grandmas and aunts have out lived their husbands by several years; some have even buried their own children—which is something no mother should have to do. Whenever I feel like I just do not have the strength to go on, I stop, and remember all that these incredible women who came before me have endured, and suddenly my life doesn’t seem so difficult anymore. This is a brief synopsis of the women who stand out most to me in my life—starting from past to present.

I don’t know much about my great, great grandma Duncan from personal experience; I was only four or five when she passed away. However, my great grandmother often talks about her over tea with me: telling how her husband served in both world wars, how she stayed home to manage the farm and the children, and how she eventually buried her husband in the early 60’s. Despite her difficult life, all I remember was her warm smile, the cookies she always kept out for visiting grand-children, and how fun her wheelchair was to ride in.

I do, however, know a little more about my great grandma GG, the daughter of my great, great grandma Duncan. We have been having tea parties for as long as I can remember, and I have learned a great deal about her life during these special moments. Her husband, my great grandpa GG was a famous state Senate member back in his prime, and his political work took him all over the country and world (as he also worked with the military). My great grandmother followed him to the ends of the world, even having my grandmother in England because she refused to leave his side. She lived through the great depression, and though she doesn’t talk about it, you can tell it still shapes her world to this day. I witnessed her first bury her husband, then, three years later, her daughter. Despite everything she has been through, my great grandmother remains optimistic and excited for tomorrow.

My grandmother, the one pictured here holding baby-me, has battled cancer twice and won. She has overcome an addiction to drugs, and mended the relationships that addiction nearly destroyed. She went to college at the age of forty so she could get a better job and support her husband when he became ill with cancer. She eventually buried him, but claims she became stronger from doing so. We are very close and I still talk to her every day. She and my great grandma GG are even flying out from Colorado together to witness my graduation this coming June.

Lastly, my mother, though she is not old enough to have lived through any major world wars, is someone I draw inspiration from. She had me at eighteen, and raised me as a single mother. She had taught me lots about forgiveness and what it means to love. Her past struggles have shown me that the present and what you continue to do dictates who you are—not your past mistakes. I love my mother dearly, and will continue to learn from her for as long as I live.

Having just celebrated my eighteenth birthday, and faced with my impending departure from home, I have spent lots of time pondering what type of woman I will become, and whether or not I will face the struggles that they have. Honestly, I have no idea; but, if I have learned anything, it’s that that’s the beauty in life: you just never know.

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2 years ago

Did this photograph play a role in what you learned about yourself?