Bette Midler’s ‘The Wind Beneath My Wings’ — I can remember the first time Mom heard the song. It was a Sunday, and I had come over for dinner. Dad and her had been at a wedding the night before and the soloist sang it as the bride walked down the aisle. Everyone she said thought of course she was teary seeing the bride. These lyrics are what touched her, reminded her of Grandma, her Mom:
Did you ever know that you’re my hero,
and everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
’cause you are the wind beneath my wings.
It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
but I’ve got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it.
I would be nothing without you.
My Grandmother was an amazing woman. She was the “wind beneath” all our wings; and she was my Hero. When Mom first heard that song it was maybe 3 or 4 years after Grandma died. It would have been 1989.
Grandma was born in 1907, in Oxford County, Ontario, Canada, the second oldest of 5 girls and 1 boy. She would say that they grew up poor, but not in spirit. I got all the stories of how many miles she had to walk to school in 3 foot snow drifts, in old boots — whole nine yards. What made Grandma unique though was, oh gosh, there really isn’t just one thing; there are many.
One of my favourite stories of her we just heard a few years ago at our Great Aunt Jo’s 90th birthday. Aunt Jo was Grandma’s youngest sister. The cousins (2nd) had come up from NY/NJ for the celebration at her church. After the service we all gathered in the hall beside for lunch.
Years ago they were all at the Farm (outside town where Grandma grew-up) washing the dishes after Sunday dinner. This would have been back in the late 60’s. The cousins were asking their Mom, Aunt Lex (grandma’s older sister) and Aunt Jo if Aunt Milly (Grandma) had ever been embarrassed. Well all the sisters started laughing … Aunt Jo I guess was the first able to respond… “NO, are you kidding?”. “Never”.
I believe it. You wouldn’t believe some of the things she wore. When she was young AND when she was old. She was the “Pretty in Pink” type and would even take her older/younger sisters old clothes and remake them into how SHE wanted them to look. She had a style all her own.
For us growing up she was our, well, she was ‘The Matriarch’ of the family. It wasn’t “what will your father say”, it was “what will your Grandmother think when she hears about this?”. Believe me, it wasn’t a threat, it was humiliating to disappoint Grandma. She held very high ideals, but she also had an open mind and heart, and her opinion mattered. How you spoke mattered, how you ate mattered, how you treated people mattered. One of her favourite bible quotes she used was “do unto others what you would have them do unto you” [Matthew 7:12].
Grandma touched so many, not just my family. Many young girlfriends of my Mom’s learned about sex education from her. She was the Mom you could go to FOR ANYTHING. You could trust her to do what was right, and not necessarily what you thought was right.
What makes her MY Hero though, is she was never afraid to be herself. It’s the same thing I admired about Tim. He wore, like her, his eccentricity like a badge of honour. I am so often self-conscious and second guessing myself all the time. I always wonder if she ever did? I don’t know, I really think it would have been rare. I remember this one outfit of hers. She had a quirky idea about what a widow should wear, for instance – only red, black & shades of white. Even when she was in her vegetable garden. Out the side door she’d go with her red acrylic short-sleeve turtleneck shirt, a skort, her chicken legs, and these ugly plastic wedgy’s she loved … and her “old poop” hat that looked like someone had driven over it a few times. Nice Grandma. Real stylish. She could have cared less. If you said anything to her about it she just might go like that into town. 😉
This is part of the Daily Prompt