The truth is, these two women would be with me everywhere I go, every day, without these little tokens. But it is nice to have something to hold that helps me remember their love and devotion.
Few influences in my life loom larger than my grandmothers. One was the embodiment of my childhood, the other was my most trusted friend during my years of young motherhood. They both taught me how to have joy, how to love my family, and showed me over and over and over again that I was always loved. I often hear thoughts in my mind throughout the day and then realize the voice I heard them in belongs not to me, but to one of my grandmothers. I sometimes catch myself in the middle of an action, reaction, or way of doing things and realize that it is an approach I "caught" from one of them. If added up, the amount of time I spent in their presence or on the phone with them would amount to years of my life. Who I am has a lot to do with who they were to me. I will never be able to thank them enough.
It would probably be safe to say that the only person who has influenced me more than them is my own mother. I don't have any trinkets in my purse that came from her, but she's with me everywhere I go every day, too. I think Mom would agree that I was a pretty easy kid, and a pretty difficult one. I mostly wanted good things. I mostly desired to be kind--I wanted to be loved, and just as badly I wanted people to know that I loved them. But I also have an insanely stubborn, sensitive streak. Somehow, in some Mom-magical way, she managed to work around that so that I never felt pushed enough to want to push back, but also didn't coddle me. She truly nurtured me: she helped to build on that independence by making me absolutely secure in her love, patience and affection for me. She taught, but she didn't dictate: I was given reasonable boundaries, but encouraged to make my own decisions and accept the consequences of them. As good decisions were made, trust and independence were expanded.
As independent-minded as I tend to be, who I am has been shaped tremendously by the women who devoted their lives to nurturing me. How I move through the world, how I conduct myself, how I parent my own kids, are all affected--from the biggest decisions, down to the tiny daily habits--by the women who mothered me.
That would be incredible enough. But I am far from the only individual who feels that way about these women. They have had that influence on many other children and grandchildren. When it comes to the types of accomplishments that the world tends to honor and remember, it would easy to think of my grandmothers as lost to history. But they aren't. There are hundreds of people who move through life with the name of one of these wonderful women etched on their hearts, with their little, every day actions and habits influenced by these moms and grandmas.
I think about my grandmas sometimes when I see my mom surrounded by her 20+ grandkids. They all spend so much time with her, and in her home. They love and are loved by her, and she is, on a daily basis, helping to shape who they are just by being who she is.
I can't think of a better--more meaningful, joyful, or significant--way to spend my life than being a mom. And I am grateful today and every day to have been surrounded all of my life by women who showed me that.