Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Women in My Life

As part of my Samhain ritual, I especially played homage to the women of my life...and as I honored each of them, one by one, I realized that I am who I am today because of them. And what I discovered was, as they used to say, "I come from strong stock." Each and every woman on my ancestral tree has faced some type of adversity and chosen not to back down from it.

Take my dad's great grandmother, Harriet, born 1859, for example. She was born to a poor family in Norfolk, England. She married Richard in 1880 and bore my great grandmother, Constance Mary on December 10, 1880 in Stalham, England. Richard died of 'wasting disease' on May 23, 1881. Harriet remarried before 1885, and she, her new husband, and Constance Mary came to the United States...making her the first of her family to venture across the ocean and start a life in the new world. Her second husband, John, died in 1910.

Constance Mary lost her dad when she was only a few months old. She married my great great granddad, Ralph, in 1901. She and Ralph had 5 children; her first child died in 1912 at age 10. Ralph died on July 30, 1918 leaving Constance with four children to raise on her own. And, not only did Constance raise those four children, she also raised my dad and his twin brother when their mom and dad couldn't take care of them anymore. Son, Harry, my granddad, was an alcoholic and died of liver disease in 1956, a few months after Constance died of heart failure.

Sadly, I never met either of these two women. Although I have never been able to find out what happened to Harriet after John's death, I know that one day I will find her. Constance Mary was still alive, and I am sure I met her one time in my life. My mom, for some reason, kept me away from my dad's family. But, ironically, it is Constance Mary who I feel remains at my side. It is her presence that I feel.

And that bring me to my maternal grandmother, Lauvenia, born August 4, 1881. She was such a special lady in my life, and I loved her so. Lauvenia was 13 years older than my granddad. I am not too sure, but I don't think a woman's being that much older than her husband was such a common occurrence at the time.

And that leaves my mom, a woman far ahead of her time. My mom was such a strong lady; she knew what she wanted and did what she had to do to accomplish her goal. She had wanted more children, but sadly I was the only one; she had four miscarriages. My mom worked all her life to buy the home she always dreamed of, making me one of the original latch-key kids, and I am sure she must of taken a lot of flack about it. That just wasn't done in those days. While growing up, I always felt badly that I would go home to an empty house, but I realize now that mom did what she had to do, and it never meant that she loved me any less.

And there are so many others far too numerous to mention. I'm sure you all have women like these in your life, and it would be great to hear about them. Thanks for letting me share about mine.


  1. You know, we women of today should really not whine about our lives and how hard we have it. Our lives are immeasurably easier than those of the women who went before us. They endured and struggled and survived with far fewer resources and comforts than we have. Your stories remind me of that truth again.

  2. Today we women can work anywhere we want. My mom had no such choices, but she went to work anyway. And Harriet really couldn't even take time to mourn the loss of Richard who was only 21 years old at his death. Women had to remarry very quickly back then because they need the male's income to support their children.

  3. Lovely tribute to your ancestral women - it is through the maternal side that our true ancestor influences run.