When I was only two years old, I left a foster home under the care of my father’s mother, Gladys Arnett, who raised me into adulthood; although there was a large generational gap between us, it never stopped her love for me as one of her own.
Gladys was born in 1931, a far different world from the time of my birth in 1984. At the time of my grandmother’s birth, Hoover was president, it was the Great Depression era, the completion of the Empire State building took place and Las Vegas legalized gambling. She was child number 11 out of 12, raised in Washington, GA., on a farm. She learned from her mom so many skills, from sewing to cooking, gardening and tending to flocks. I mean, she did it all and knew it all.
That was a time when family looked after family and she was determined I would be raised that way.
By the time I came along in 1984, Gladys had 10 children and 8 grandchildren under her belt. She had a host of nieces and nephews I’m sure she helped raise as well. It was easy breezy by the time I had come along, and let’s just say she was well seasoned.
My birth mother, we’ll save for a different story, but let’s just say I wasn’t planned or wanted. By the time I was discovered, it was far too late!
When my mother couldn’t/wouldn’t step up to be a mother, my grandmother did, and she did the best with what she had and to the best of her abilities.
Because of that large generational gap, I was raised “old school.” There was a home-cooked meal every Sunday, I had to eat leftovers, be in when the street lights came on. I had to actually be a child and play outside … without supervision! LOL
My grandmother even went as far as making some of my outfits by hand. Best days of my life outside of my son. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
My grandmother has since passed but her memory I will always carry. She carried herself as a strong woman in both opinion and cause. She needed no one to do for her what she could do herself.
Not only was she a grandmother, but most of her life she was a health caregiver in rehabilitation centers, social services and later provided private health care.
My grandmother’s personal commitment to “Change” and “Opportunity” in society led her to become active in a local chapter of the NAACP and several senior citizen groups. In the 1960s, my grandmother, along with the NAACP, helped to lead to the integration of Lexington City schools. Gladys also founded a daycare in my hometown and was its director for a period of time. So, when I say she did it all and knew it all, I really mean it.
It’s because of women like my grandmother who give inspiration to others. She was a mother figure to children who weren’t her own. If only she were here to see my son, her great grandson, and give me some advice on the days when I need her most.
So Happy Mother’s Day, to the memory of a Grand-mother, to all the mothers out there and to the mother figures for being our anchors and inspiring us when we need you and when we think we don’t.
Successful mothers are not the ones that have never struggled. they are the ones that never give up, despite the struggles