My Grandma Rose was born in 1917. When she was still a baby her family moved to Wyoming to become homesteaders. I know a little bit about the life she lived back then because she wrote down a few stories for her family to share. Her mother, my great great Grandmother, ran their house. She taught her daughters to cook, to create, to make their own soap, and to be strong women. She did this because it was a necessity for them. When I think what it must have been like to live with no real certainty about where food was going to come from and that the whole family had to work, really work, I am in awe.
My Grandma Rose has lived in two worlds, the homesteading world, where she didn't even go to town until she was 12 years old. She lived in a log cabin, built by her father. They ate the food that they could and lived as a family, each member dependent on the other. On the other side she was educated, a priority of her mother's, and later she worked and raised a family of her own.
She has seen so many things in her life. World Wars, The Great Depression, space travel, cell phones, internet, etc. More than all of that though she has seen life, births and deaths, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren. What a full life this woman has been living.
My earliest memories of her are so rich and wonderful. Even though I was one of many great grandchildren she always made me feel very special. Her walls are still marked up with the growth lines of all of her family, each of us noting how much taller/shorter we were than our cousins and second cousins. Her home is the home we all carry in our memories, always there with its rich red carpets, the toys that generations of children have played with, the drawings on the fridge, it's all there and it's all her. She has become the ultimate mother we all look to her, love her, and deeply respect this woman of such grace, beauty and dignity.
I know her as my great grandmother, sharing her with many others. I often wonder what mothering skills she passed on to her children, grandchildren and so on. Do I use the same techniques as her when I care for my baby? Did she sing the same songs in the middle of the night, whisper the same words of comfort to her children? What impact has her mothering had on generations of women? We can never really know just how deeply her presence has made itself known, but I do know that she is the mother of many mothers.