So what about if you don’t have a grandmother, at least you don’t have one that you knew? Or what if your grandmother memories are old and faded and there is little that you remember really at all?
Often we didn’t have or know the physical presence of a grandmother. Sometimes we don’t even have any stories about the women, our maternal grandmother, in whose belly the egg that made us was first created.
I’ve been wondering about this as I talk to women about their experiences or lack of experiences of their grandmothers.
One thing I am clear about is that the point of the Listening to our Grandmothers project is not to make people who didn’t know or don’t remember their grandmothers feel like something is missing.
In fact, even though it’s called Listening to our Grandmothers, in the book which I will launch in September, one of the interviews is actually with my Mum. The real impetous of the project is to play a small part in re-writing the fact that there seems to be so little valuing of the stories of older women in our communities and institutions. It is also to point out that, whether we knew them or not, those that went before us play a part in our heritage, in who we think we are.
An article I read recently called ‘Grandma’s Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes‘ reviews research which appears to have shown the impact of the lives our ancestors lived on our very DNA apparently affected how we feel about our lives and treat the people around us. (Be warned this scientific research involves animals). If it is true that our DNA can be impacted upon by events in our ancestors lifetimes, it is surely also that case that the experiences of our own lives can transform negative patterns in our ancestral past and transform our DNA for the next generation.
We know that women’s lives even a generation ago were more restricted that those we live today. This science seems to suggest that, whether we knew our grandmother or not, any oppression she experienced could be impacting our lives today. It’s not surprising then that centuries of patriarchy have taken their toll on most of us in some way or other and that often we feel this reality deeply even if it hasn’t been our direct experience in every aspect of our own lives.
We may not be able to get back the stories of the grandmothers we never knew, but here in our present we can make a choice to really listen to the elders in our lives right now. To our mothers, our aunts, to those we meet as we go about our daily lives and to our grandmothers if we still have them. We can make the choice to live a life of respect for elders and for the stories of women. If we can find ways to really listen to each other and to tell our stories I think we will make a difference to the next generation too. If you want to be kept updated about the launch of Listening to our Grandmothers please sign up for my mailing list or join the Facebook page here.