My Grandmother, My Mother, and Me

The year was 1923 and my grandmother Elizabeth (affectionately known as Lizzy) watched as her youngest child of two was ravaged by pneumonia at the tender age of six. My grandmother looked upon little Rosemary as she lay in her coffin; both my grandfather and she were overwhelmed with grief. Inconsolable, my grandfather walked into the next room and shot himself in the head. My grandmother buried her daughter and her thirty-five year old husband a day apart and vowed that she would survive. She worked as a custodian at a courthouse close to her home till retirement. Lizzy never remarried and she did survive. My grandmother was a very good person and my strength.

My mother, Doris, married and had three children. The marriage was extremely violent, my father used to beat up my mother quite often. The marriage ended in a divorce, thank God. Mother worked as an office nurse/assistant for wonderful doctor. She worked long hours to give her three children what we needed. I remember my father would come to the house to pick up my brothers Larry, Richard, and myself for a visit. I would get so excited about the visit, that on the day that my father would arrive, 1 would sit on the front porch with my little bag and my baby doll and wait for him. When he finally did arrive to pick us up, he would say to me, “Oh no, Rosemary, today is only for the boys.” My mother watched from the window as I ran back to the house crying and met me at the door. I would run pass her to the room that she and I shared and fall on the bed in tears. She would come in and hold me till I stopped crying. After these afternoon rejections, my mom told me, “This will not happen again and we will survive.” I was just six years old.

I drew my strength from these two extraordinary women. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit, that strength was put to the ultimate test. Five days after the storm hit, with my home flooded, my husband of seventeen years walked out on me. I had no clue how I was going to pull myself out of the abyss, but somehow I have and moved forward and haven’t looked back since. Pick the mountains you wish to climb and climb them one at a time. Life isn’t about waiting for a storm to pass. It’s about learning to laugh and play in the rain.


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