HERstory: So Many Questions

Written by on March 1, 2015

It’s almost impossible for me to hear the phrase “Women’s History Month” without casting my thoughts toward the village of women that raised me. There are so few memories of my childhood that don’t involve at least one of my great-aunts being present with hugs, stories and a biting wit that seemed to be as inherited as my maternal DNA. As a young girl, I was aware that my mother’s mother had died, but because she passed before I was born, I didn’t miss her. I just never knew her, and her sisters were more than up to the task of delivering to me a sense of connectedness that would have been my grandmother’s charge had she been around. It was only later, after my own mother died, that I realized how selectively edited that family connection had been.

I never saw a single photo of my grandmother until my eldest great-aunt died. Not one. Wouldn’t have been able to pick her out of a lineup if my life depended on it. My mother never had any images of her mother in our house, and barely spoke of her either. I found out later that this was because my grandmother was an alcoholic. The pendulum swing of trying to work out the love/hate dynamic was overwhelming for my mother as a child, and she had no siblings to be a buffer for those feelings. My mom’s first cousins were like brothers and sisters, growing up together in our storied homestead at 524 T St, NW. They were the grounding force she needed to make it through the storm, and the entire family circle enveloped us both when I was born. For that, I am eternally grateful.

As I continue to dig through my genealogy, I am motivated to continue by all that I do not know. Answers I would have had if I had just thought to ask them while my village of elders was still with me. Prayerfully, the technology will continue to catch up to my areas of research. Names, dates, little details that will allow me to piece together my herstory…portraits of these amazing women that loved hard enough to fill in the gaps for the ones who were gone, before they themselves made transition.

I am because they were, and I will never take that for granted.

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