Inspired by grandmothers – Canadians share more of their stories

The Stephen Lewis Foundation has been asking Canadians how grandmothers inspire them for International Women’s Day. We are pleased to share the following stories and reflections with you.

I have been inspired by each and every member of the Victoria Grandmothers for Africa, but one grandmother stands out above all. She was one of the founding members of our group and since then she has given 110% for all our activities. At present she is quartermaster for the Sales and Crafts Committee; she hosts every meeting of the committee; she looks after reordering cards–National Walk cards and those with the textile art photos; she handles sales at our meetings and summer markets; I could go on and on, but I know everyone understands how valuable such a person is. She is my favourite octogenarian–Elizabeth Rutherford.

Mary Myrtle Schmidt
My grandmother – her name was Emelia – raised fourteen children in rural Saskatchewan; seven boys and seven girls. All of her children went on to become community and family leaders who are role models to this day. She spent time travelling across Canada and the US to visit her children and grandchildren, paying special attention to the new mothers that were her daughters or daughters-in-law. One of my most vivid memories of her is of her standing over a boiling vat of oil, teaching us how to cook donuts. She also taught us how to make kleenex box covers that looked like dogs. I also have a foggy memory of her chasing a headless chicken around her garden, but I think I’ve blocked out the details. I DO remember that her chicken dinners were to die for.

Nancy P

You simply put one foot before the other
Not knowing where or how the journey ends.
Grandmother, you should know that you’re my hero
And I’d be more than proud to be your friend.

1. I’ve heard about the burden you are bearing
Taunts that come to those that you hold dear,
I’ve watched you struggle onward for your family
And know you face a future full of fear.
But I have also seen your resolution;
You daily deal with pain that should not be.
You’ve born your grieving with tremendous courage
And shown the world a stalwart dignity.

2. You’ve heard your grandkids cry out for their parents
Dying young and hard from HIV,
You are the only “home” that they can cling to,
You have become their only family.
You labor in the fields or in the quarry,
You bury adult children in the yard,
You’ve never known such hardship or such sorrow:
A grandma’s love the constant in your heart.

3. I really don’t know how I’d bear such heartbreak –
Don’t know how I’d face reality!
I often wonder, “What if we changed places,
If I were you and you were somehow me?”
I know I’d need some friends to walk beside me
I know I’d always want a helping hand
From those who care for me, my life, my family,
Companions who I know would understand.

You simply put one foot before the other
Not knowing where or how the journey ends.
Grandmother, you should know that you’re my hero
And I’d be more than proud to be your friend.

Carol, EASTSIDE GRANNIES, Sherwood Park, AB
Alice and Irene

The women who became Grandmothers to my children were an inspiring influence. These women of strength, and substance, solved the economic troubles of their families, created warm welcoming homes, and cared for others in times of illness well into their senior years.  Although my Mother, and Mother-in –Law were different, they shared a profound depth of loyalty to their families, and a tough, gritty determination to take hold when times became difficult economically. At times they were the backbone of survival for their families, helping to provide the financial resources that enabled their Grandchildren to gain an education.

Each of these women spent many years of their married lives rearing children, maintaining homes, volunteering, and managing frequently required family moves.  They were both middle aged when challenging family circumstances required them to find employment.  As older women entering the work force, while still raising families, they were often weary beyond measure, worried about financial security, and uncertain of their ability to cope with the demands of their jobs, yet they persevered. Were they still with us, I know they would proudly applaud the work of the Grandmothers in Africa, sharing a bond of commitment to their grandchildren.

Elizabeth  Stobie Law

Twitter mentions
@g_mitchcan: @stephenlewisfdn #granspiration #IWD Their never-ending love and support for children in need. Always a kind hand, kiss, wise words.

@AndreaLConroy: @stephenlewsfdn: you should have seen the grandmother parade down main st. in Jinja, Uganda. Vibrant, energetic, amazing. #granspiration

How do grandmothers inspire you? Share your stories with Stephen Lewis Foundation for International Women’s Day: write a story, email us a note, post on Facebook or tweet using the hashtag #granspiration, share a photo or create a video to tell us how they motivate you! E-mail

  • Deb Matheson

    My grandmother was a going concern. She wasn’t very parental, and she didn’t really care that much about any of her grandchildren except me. I think she sensed a kindred spirit. She lived her own life, partying her way through Prohibition, kicking against the restrictions imposed by the government and by society. She never knit a sweater, baked a cookie, or sang a lullaby. But she made me laugh until I peed my pants, and she taught me how to swear like longshoreman and speak up when I saw something I didn’t think was right. Not your typical grandmother, but then neither am I and my grandkids seem to like me just the way I am – flawed but funny. Miss you Nana – wish you could’ve continued the party with us.

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *