Our time here in California has most certainly been centered around what I value most: family. While yesterday was focused on bringing a new member into the family, today was focused on introducing the newest generation to the matriarch – my grandmother. Despite having been in this world nearly two years, Ellie Graye had yet to meet Grandody.
Grandody played a huge part in the development of my belief system post-Charismatic Christianity. She encouraged me to study as hard I was able to, and also taught me to then push a little harder. She constantly posed questions that challenged what had been presented as “Truth.” She supported me as I sorted through the good things from my childhood that were mixed in with off-the-wall dogmas that were flimsily disguised as “Biblical.” Grandody offered her feedback on philosophies that seemed strange, unfamiliar, and sometimes downright “wrong” to my naive mind.
Extremely politically active throughout her life, Grandody inspired me to study political science, and specifically helped formulate my ideas on Women’s Rights, Women’s movements, and gender equality in general. Her life’s story is an amazing one, and my goal is to carry on the legacy she has carried close to her heart. Her work has influenced the every day lives of more than just her family, and she never backed down (even when she and my Grandfather were Black Listed in the McCarthy era). Yet as opinionated, incorrigible and dedicated to her causes as she was, she was always the epitome of graciousness. It bugged me when I was younger that everything always seemed “wonderful” to her, but I now appreciate how difficult it must have been for her to watch us grow up in a politically restrictive environment. She wisely held her tongue (for the most part) so that she could remain part of our lives, and I have always known that she loved each of us deeply.
While I don’t think I’ve exactly lived up to the the dreams she had for me (I’m not serving in Congress or working in the White House), I know that the strength and joy I find in my womanhood is partly rooted in her own strength. When she asks me, “So what are you doing for women’s lib, Melissa?” I never know quite what to answer, and often fumble with my words. I know, however, that my own strength has touched and inspired other women, and to me that’s where true liberation comes from: self-confidence, self-awareness, and independence. If I can pass on even a sliver of the heritage that I’ve been entrusted with, Ellie is going to be one incredibly powerful woman.
So today, two of my favorite females met each other. The moment was beautiful! Ellie immediately started sharing her toys and talking to “Dody” (She said it so sweetly, but just didn’t want to put the “Gran” in there), and the two of them bonded instantly. It made my heart happy.
One day I’ll write more about my fabulous grandmother and her inspiring history, but for tonight, I’m just going to bask in the glory of the glow that my daughter had while walking around with my dearest Grandody. I love you, Grandody!