I hear the voice of my grandmothers calling me
I hear the voice of my grandmothers calling me

They say wake up wake up, they say wake up wake up

Listen Listen
Listen Listen

-Voices of the Grandmothers chant

* please note: I didn’t write this, but there are conflicting sources online as to its original writer, and it has been shaped and changed by the many communities who have used it.  My apologies for not properly sourcing it. *

     Memories are like little lessons planted for us in advance by those who might not be around when we need those lessons.  I am learning this more and more as I grow older and remember things about my mother that I haven’t thought about in over 17 years.  Every year, as Samhain rounds the corner, I am inundated with these memories and reminded of what a rock my mother was.  A giving, loving, laughing, 5 foot nothing, rock.
Every time the movie Steel Magnolias is on TV I am reminded of how lucky I am to be a diabetic in 2013 and how hard it was for my mother.  Diagnosed in the early 60’s, she was told she’d never see past 18.  There are stories about her difficult years as a teenager with a death sentence, but there are also stories of her thriving and living to the fullest despite it.  As a young adult she was faced with the same choices, one of them being to have me despite the damage it would do to her body.  When I was faced with the same choice at 18 I could almost imagine what she had felt.  While I am pro-choice, it’s not a choice I could make, no matter what the situation was.  For the next thirteen years my mother would make these decisions again and again, and there wasn’t anybody she wouldn’t try to help if she could.  My memories of her have her smiling to through the very last one.  Despite her disability and increasingly more severe health conditions her spirit thrived, and this has what has kept me strong through my hardest decisions and toughest battles.  Even when I was planning my wedding I had conversations with her in my head and in my dreams, and my memories of her always knew what I needed to hear.
When I met Hubby’s grandmother I was warned that she hadn’t really liked his girlfriends in the past.  I put on my bravest smile and humbly entered her house as a guest, but I left as a friend, and by the time she left us I felt like a granddaughter.  We would sit at her kitchen table talking, and she would tell me stories even Hubby hadn’t heard.  The strength of her faith in her god and love for her family was unmatched.  Her last request to me was to take care of her him, and I was honoured that she thought me up to the task.  In the end I helped with her care, and I felt grateful to have had the chance to know her.  Now that I’m taking care of Hubby and his grandfather I sometimes have to stand back and as her how she did it for 55 years.  It is at these times when I think back to conversations I forgot we had or little notes I found stashed around the house when we moved in after her passing.
The voices of our ancestors have great things to teach us, whether or not we agree with their beliefs, their words, or their actions.  While they were no more perfect that we are, they lived to the best of their abilities.  If we don’t listen to the lessons they offer, they didn’t just die in vain, they lived in vain as well.  My mother didn’t have to keep giving to others.  She didn’t have to try new things or learn new skills.  She didn’t have to instill in me a belief that every day is sacred and full of wonder no matter what it holds or how I feel about it.  She didn’t have to have me at all, but she did all of that and more.  Every time I feel stupid I think of my mother learning to play the piano by touch.  Every time I feel overwhelmed I think of Nan caring more about the people she was leaving behind than herself because there was no doubt in her mind that she was headed to meet Jesus.  Every time I feel like giving up I remember those before me who fought on and still had strength enough not to give up on me.
This year at Samhain, when we honour our Ancestors and invite them to our tables, take a moment to really hear the messages they have always been sending through the memories and lessons they imparted in life.  Then thank them, even if those lessons were hard ones to learn.  Even if they made mistakes.  Remember they were human, and thank them.
Aloha and Blessed Be in the Coming New Year
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