What did this lady look like? Not like the imposing matriarch of the movies. Even at 95 she looked modest but proud, small and frail, less than 85 pounds. You could see how fragile she had become, but she never let it stop her from doing what she wanted. She was up early every day, dressed neatly and smelling of her favorite "Yardly's Lavender" powder and toilet water. I sometimes forget how fragile she really was.
I have a picture of her at 17 holding her first child, my sister Alice, only a few months old. My father is standing along side, proud as a peacock. She was quite pretty in the picture. I wonder what she was like at that age? Now that I have learned a little bit about her mother, my grandmother, and sister, I wonder if they were alike when young?
It was only when only I tried to find information to write the story of our family's Cherokee connection that I learned about the hardships of my mother's early childhood and the hardship of her mother's life in the Cherokee Nation. Then the real significance of my grandmother's and my mother's early life struck home.
It has been said that a person's character and personality are formed within the first three or four years of their life. With the adversity my grandmother faced during these years, it is amazing she grew up so well adjusted with little neurosis. Her childhood must have played a big part in the development of her character. (It makes one wonder about the effectiveness of our present day social policies, with welfare providing most of what is needed to live; protecting the welfare mothers and children from adversity.)
Surely my grandmother and mother didn't like the adversity in their lives, but they seemed to thrive in spite of adversity. Would they have been the same without the adversity? Of course not, but I know they would have tried to show and teach us the same moral values and strength. It was part of their lives.
My mother always seemed to accept people and things as she found them. She always seemed to have enough hope, faith, determination and perseverance to face every adversity with the expectation that the future would turn out right. We learned this, and many more traits too numerous to list by example, rather than explanation.
With our many moves, we had plenty of adversity ourselves. Instead of a discussion or whining about our fate, we just faced each situation and lived through it without complaint. I learned that a positive attitude and time solved most problems. I guess I carried this over into my life without thinking about it.