Monday, 15 November 2010


Renowned for her life experience and words of wisdom, at my grandfather’s side for 65 years, my grandmother recently turned the impressive age of 80. Retaining her own hips, humour and health; above all, she’s held onto her happiness.

If the celebrations were anything, they were emotional. Enduring two tearful speeches from the unexpected sources of my grandfather and my uncle, praising my grandmother’s loyalty, laughter and longitude, I was on an emotional edge. This edge was tipped when, in return, my grandmother offered a few simple, but significant words. Looking to her ten grandchildren, devoted to her every breath, she passionately advised, “that if you take one thing from life, it is that your mother is your best-friend.” After an initial snigger as I caught the eye of my elder sister, peering down the lengthy, teary-eyed table past my siblings, I admired my mother. Poised modestly, eyes glazed, a vision of elegance; I understood the weight of my grandmother’s wise words as I sat in awe.

If my mother has stood for anything in her years, it is independence. Always looking to her as a pool of infinite knowledge in times of need, I have somewhat subconsciously adopted her mantra that ‘happiness is from within; no one makes you happy but yourself.’ Respecting my mother as a vision of flawless feminism, it was difficult to deny the wisdom of a woman who breathes determination, hard work, morals, and above all, modesty. Moreover, having spent years throwing myself at her for attention and receiving little response, I wasn’t simply encouraged, but forced to develop an inclination for the individual.

Despite falling truly, madly, deeply in love with my father in her youthful university years and later falling further in love with her four children, she has by no means been moulded, influenced or restricted by her love for anyone else, but herself. Whilst such determination to maintain her independence has undeniably created a powerful woman, I fear that somewhere along the way, my mother may have been misled by her mantra.

Once committed entirely to the duties of her studies, her relationship, and what’s more, to her maternal responsibilities; as her children fly the coop, what transpires is years of neglect. Having little but humoured her blessings, inadvertently, my mother has become a prisoner of her own independence. Enveloped within the cruel clasps of the career, she is left with little or nothing outside of 9-5.

With retirement being the buzz word of the moment, my mother is left vulnerable, overwhelmed with a sense of longing for the loves of her life she dangerously discarded on her journey to seek ‘happiness from within’. Being the first to criticise my grandmother’s choice to devote herself entirely to the dreams and ambitions of a man, it was my mother that night, who sat mesmerised by the love my grandmother shared with her husband and her family, and essentially, the happiness she found in 65 years of a commendable life commitment.

Whilst acknowledging that times have not simply changed, but transformed, since my grandmother’s generation of male devotion, I can’t help but fathom that the feminists of today may have overlooked the importance of life beyond the wants, needs and desires of the individual. Whilst undeniably it is of incredible importance to nurture personal requirements in a day that takes no prisoners, breading disregard for others, it is equally important to avoid the lows of life outside such self-consumption.

Despite always placing my mother’s pearls of wisdom on a pedestal, I would like to think that my grandmother has provided me with an inch of insight that will mean miles to my journey. Whilst I can only aspire to become a fraction of the woman my mother is, I hope not to shy away from a life led by love. After all, no man’s an island.

Rose Brownlow

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