For those of you 90s kids, you may recognize the ode to the classic Gerard Depardieu-Katherine Heigl flick My Father, The Hero (a film I will shamelessly admit, I have seen way more than once) in my blog post title. But I digress…
I’ve always admired my grandma. We haven’t always gotten along and we still get into the occasional argument (almost always of a political nature) but at 90 years old, I consider her one of my strongest female role models.
She grew up in a time where women didn’t work, had way more than one child, and where the man ran the household. My grandma did in fact have the multiple children (5 to be exact) but she worked her entire adult life and my grandpa was an amazing man, God love him, but she completely ran the show. She was truly a rebel for her time. And yes, she married young and moved right from her parents house in with my grandpa…pretty standard for back then. But she loves to tell me the story of how she was dating someone else at the time she met my grandpa. She proudly tells me about the “two fellas” she was “going around with.” I’m sure in reality this wasn’t all that revolutionary (though Leave it to Beaver may beg to differ) but to me, it was actually quite rebellious. Ultimately her mother informed her it wasn’t right to be dating two men at the same time so after a successful few dates, she picked my grandpa and after 60 years of marriage, she never looked back. She was lucky that she “found a good one” as she always says.
For as long as I’ve known her, my grandma has always been brutally honest (emphasis on the brutal sometimes) and I’ve always admired this about her too (the honest, not the brutal). Growing up, I was the complete opposite. Very introverted, quiet and shy; never wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings or offend anyone. I actually had a lengthy conversation with her a couple of weeks ago and she explained that when she was younger she was the exact same way…in those exact same words. I was shocked to learn my grandma had ever been introverted and didn’t want to offend anyone (cause trust me, she’s long outgrown that trait). Like I said, I’ve always admired my grandma but I never really thought of us as all that similar save for the passionate family inherited personality (“passionate” is a complete euphemism there by the way). Politically we are on completely opposite ends. I won’t even mention I’m liberal to her for fear of sending her pacemaker into overdrive. She was already married and had kids when she was my age. But when I found out she too had once been introverted and didn’t want to offend anyone, I found another similarity we shared. I had never quite put my finger on why I was so shy and quiet growing up. I knew part of it was related to my disability. I wanted to blend in. But talking to her made me realize I was also doing it because I was so afraid to cause a stir or hurt someone’s feelings, I just didn’t say anything at all. This went for talking in class and just talking to people in general. Amazing revelation.
I don’t think I’ll quite ever get to her level of bluntness but I know my inner grandma certainly comes out when I’m around her and I’m not afraid to stand my ground or say what I think, just like she does.
I think our generation and especially the younger generations are particularly starved for a positive female role model. I don’t look up to some midriff-bearing popstar or a runway model. I look to my own family for one of my role models: my grandma. Grandma, I know you can’t read this right now but thank you for being my inspiration to be a bit of a rebel in my own life. Thank you for always supporting me and telling me not to worry. Thank you for not pressuring me to get married and have kids already and for constantly showering me with compliments (too narcissistic?). Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for pushing my buttons sometimes and most importantly, thank you for having a hand in making me who I am today. You truly are a rebel.