losing gram. part 3 of 3.

I grew up
in an environment
where women
were expected to cook,
clean,
do endless loads of laundry,
and iron
every
single
article
of clothing.

Where the guys would visit outside
while “the girls” would stay in the house
and get dinner ready.

And yet I also remember
my Dad teaching me
how to drive standard
down our gravel driveway.
And at a young age,
being taught how to drive a boat
and dock it myself.
So I don’t mean to paint this all
with one brush.

And yet,
gender roles
were still quite defined.

My gram
was the one
who made me believe
that things could
be different.

She disliked anything
stereotypical.
She had much to say
about men who tried to control
their wives.
Women were equals
and could do anything
that a man could.

I believed her.

Instead of growing up
with goals of getting married
and having kids,
I planned to go to university
and travel.
She was always the first one
to ask where our next trip
would be.

She was also the one
who bought me a black velvet
birthday card one year
with the word
SEX
emblazoned
across the front
in shiny red letters.
Inside the caption read:
Now that I have your attention,
I want to wish you
a Happy Birthday.

She was the one who groaned
over my parents concerns
that my brother and his girlfriend
were going camping overnight.
When will your parents realize
that they can have sex during the day
and not only at night.

She was open minded
and liked to challenge the norm,
yet scoffed at the thought
of being called a
feminist.

And because of her
I grew up believing
that I could do anything,
because Gram did.

She chose a life of her own.

She was a high school graduate
who wrote beautifully
and could play the piano.
And during a time
when most women married
and moved into cute little houses
to tend to,
along with their children,
my Gram chose to live
in a remote area of Northwestern
Ontario.

She and my grandpa
were two young kids
who bought a boat and motor,
packed their supplies,
and left home
to live on a trapline
they bought.

They ran their own business.
And at one point, they lived in lean-to’s
and rough cabins,
cooking their food
over fires they had built,
sleeping under the stars
and strapping snowshoes
onto their feet
to crunch across
the sparkling snow.

She loved the outdoors
and it was exactly
where she wanted to be.

She was strong
and independent
and admired.

And I never realized
how much of my identity
was tied to her
until she was
gone.

I was so proud of her.
I wanted to be like her
and I wanted to make her proud.

I spent decades worrying
about losing this woman,
and then when I did
I felt totally lost.

So yes, I was having a hard time with it.

I miss my ritual phone call to her
sitting in my seat at a Blue Jays game.
Hi Gram, guess where I am?
You little bugger (this was gram btw).

She loved the Jays
and knew I was calling to rub it in.
She would want to know where I was sitting
so she could try and grab a glimpse of me
while watching the game
on TV.

I miss hearing her cackle of a laugh
and when she’d slap her knee
when something was really funny.
I miss our lunch dates
and gossiping over the phone.
And I miss seeing her handwriting
in our mailbox.

And that’s completely okay
because it means
that she meant something to me
and she still has things to teach me.
I’m just figuring it out,
on my own.