A few days ago I wrote to my readers about my sister Gina. I mentioned how the family came together when Gina had two strokes twelve years ago. My post was solely about watching Gina as she found ways to deal with what happened to her and how as a family we struggled to understand her experience, which in many ways, I'm not sure we ever truly will.
Today, I want to talk about the women in my family. My mother, Shirley, my three sisters, Gina who you already know, Elizabeth who we all call Lizzy and Teresa or Tree or Terese or Trendy or Little T, depending on the day and who's talking with her. Teresa is the youngest, we have a ton of different ways of calling, rarely do we actually call her Teresa though. And of course my daughter Grace.
These women make up the core of my best friends. I have other female friends but my mother, sisters and Grace are the females I share the most time with. They are the ones I trust without question and whom I love to the depths of my soul. They have made me who I am and in turn I know they count on me to be there for them. We argue. Oh, how we disagree sometimes. Our political views, our ideas on relationships, our opinions on medical marijuana, sports teams, shopping, food, diet, exercise, health issues, even fast food, every single one of us has our education, experience and knowledge to bring to the table. This includes my ten year old daughter who is as lively and outspoken as the rest of us.
The women in my family are the ONLY people in this world that I feel completely myself with. I do not have to hide behind any mirrors. I can say whatever I want, I can offer whatever advice I think they may learn from, I can be 100% totally myself. I do not worry about sounding stupid or like an idiot because if I do sound like a moron, they will not care, they may give me look like "Really, Nat, come on, who the hell do you think you're talking too?" And I'll laugh and rephrase my inane commentary. Most of all these woman are strong, they love me, they are supportive and I would do anything for them at any moment in time.
Last night, we all gathered together for my sister Lizzy's final fitting for her wedding dress. She is getting married to a man she has been with for almost a decade, a man she met at my wedding. From day one Lizzy and her fiance were smitten. She looked so happy trying that dress on, her face glowed, and of course, she was gorgeous. We then spent the rest of the evening trying on dresses, all of us, even Grace. My mother was the only one that found something that looked as though it was designed on her! But the fun us sisters had trying on those gowns made me realize just how incredible these women are.
We embody the spirits of our ancestors. I have no doubt that my Great Grandmother Teresa is inside us. A woman who raised my grandfather and his five siblings on her own. I know my Grandma Theresa (my dad's mother) beats inside us. We are definitely who we are because of the woman that raised us. My mother is intelligent, there was not a day in our house where the radio was not turned to the news, a sports game, sometimes soap operas, radio talk shows and in the evenings we watched 1980's sit coms. We were well rounded and my mother spent time talking to us about Ronald Regan, The Vietnam War, The Civil Rights Movement, her experiences growing up in Chicago, we listened to Beatles albums, Carole King, Earth Wind and Fire and we watched The Blues Brothers while my mother talked about Dixie Square the mall they crash through in the movie and how she used to work there!
I believe my youngest sister Teresa grew up knowing my mother in a different way. My parents were divorced when Teresa was very little, so she knew my mother as a single parent, a working woman helping to support her family. The older siblings were very involved in babysitting Teresa and she spent a lot of time hanging out with her big sisters. While Teresa had a much different upbringing she is still one of the strong, lively, independent women that we all are.
As women we may be married or getting married, we may have long term relationships but the one thing we are all individuals. We can take care of ourselves and are not afraid to go out in the world and make our own ways. We are strong, confident, and what truly binds us together is that we have each other. No matter where we go in this world, we can always count on one another to be there. My family is my heart. They are my soul. I am blessed beyond the earth to have them. I do not know if they realize the treasure I feel I have in them. I do not know if these words alone can express the feeling inside me as we tried on dresses last night. Of course the wedding is two weeks away and Lizzy and my Mom are the only ones who know what they are wearing. My daughter will be part of them as well. Although she is an only child, she will know what it means to have family. I will never sacrifice the relationship I have with my family, no matter how much we drive each other nuts. I will never give up the bond we share, no matter how far away we may someday end up. The differences make us unique, the similarities make us family, and the LOVE makes us whole.