There were several strong women in my mother’s life. These women had to own strength, nursing children through illness, caring for large broods of children, struggling together during hard times. They knew hardship and they knew the collective power of bonding together. Their strong circle of support formed around another family in need. This time it was my mother’s family. These women made a pivotal and positive difference finding order from chaos. It was their simple acts of kindness and commitment that pulled my mother through one of the darkest of memories. My mother’s, mother passed on, when my mother was a mere nine years old. These were difficult and sad times for all. A distraught father, an infant in tow, created a perfect storm for chaos. There was a need for order, established routines, and a desperate ache for love and acts of kindness. These women, laid aside their differences and lives to circle around a family in need. They stepped in and offered up simple acts of kindness through gifts of time and love.
My great-grandmother was among the first to arrive. Still grieving the loss of her daughter, great-grandmother filled the role of mothering her daughter’s child. My mother fondly remembers her grandmother and their lovely visits together. This woman would read tea leaves and she read my mother’s with conviction and optimism, the sun will shine for you, dear. Every evening when the sun set, great-grandmother would pick up her daughter’s silver-handled brush from the nightstand and brush my mother’s hair. Great-grandmother would sing as she softly brushed away the sadness that clung in the little girl’s mind. Tucking my mother under the covers, great-grandmother would recite a prayer. My mother believes that this simple, repetitive act soothed and eased her pain. My great grandmother’s loving touch, strong faith, and the simple action of methodically brushing hair comforted, instilling calm and hope into a little child’s broken heart. Their time together would be brief.
Another woman of strength was a childless, flamboyant Auntie who would pick my mother up from the city house and take her off for a weekend stay. My mother, seated in a sidecar, would ride to the Auntie’s with Uncle Monty steering the wheel of his motor cycle. Clamouring up the stairs, my mother would wait for Monty to enact the magical act of pulling a bed out of the wall. With a flourish and a wave of hand, Monty would drop the Murphy Bed. Auntie and Uncle Monty’s zest and zeal, their laughter and joy of life returned some of the enchantment, sparking the light that had dimmed in a nine-year old child’s world.
There were the cheerful Aunties that arrived with casseroles in hand. Bustling through the kitchen, they could set and place a satisfying, home cooked meal on the table in next to no time. There was warm food to eat, manners to model, grace and conversation shared, all served up, spiced with shakes of laughter. The Aunties demonstrated that dining together was more than just the sharing of a meal at the table. It was about the circle of family that surrounded, concerned for another. This protective element returned a sense of family and love into a young child’s grayed life.
I share this story as a reminder to look about and discover how a simple action can begin to heal, threading joy, order, and laughter back into someone else’s life. When you share a small piece of your heart, the simple actions set forth, rolling on throughout time, mending and patching and healing others. Share a small piece of yourself with someone in need. You won’t need to look too far to find that someone and you won’t need to spend much money to bring joy to another.