If you follow me on Facebook you’ll see that I have recently stopped bullshitting my family regarding my stance on reproductive healthcare. That’s not to say that I lied to them, I more just shielded them. I don’t know if that’s better or worse, but I’m not here for a moral argument currently.
What I am here to say is that this action was actually inspired by my grandmothers in two separate occasions.
Granny: Catholic, paternal side, republican.
I think I get a lot of my political spitfire from her. With that said, she was never the overbearing, judgmental, catholic stereotype. She never pushed her views on me, always encouraged a healthy and courteous debate, and lives by the idea of ‘free to disagree’. I knew faith was important to her, it’s important to most people in my family, but I don’t think I realized how deep her dedication to Christ was until recent years.
When I was 13(ish) I became disenchanted with christianity and sought my spiritual nourishment in Wicca. For my 13th birthday Granny took me to Barnes and Noble likely anticipating buying me a new fantasy novel, and instead found herself combing through the New Age section as I browsed magick books. Given my mother’s ~ e a r t h y ~ views, I’m sure this didn’t totally surprise her, but I can’t imagine she was thrilled. It is possible she was clinging to the idea of “there’s one in every family” or that I would grow out of it. Regardless, she took the giant (and expensive, I might add!) book of spells up to the counter and bought it for me.
When she dropped me off later that day she told me loved me and reminded me that she prayed for me and all her grandkids every night! She taught me tolerance and more than that, she illustrated mastery of one of the most difficult concepts in many religions; unconditional love.
I’ve been know for my fiery online exchanges (and IRL arguments) with people who do not share my views. And while I still hold an unapologetically hard stance on social justice issues, and I do NOT always believe peace is the answer. However, specifically with my family, I have found that through love I’ve been able to find understanding and peace where our ideas sit on opposite aisles.
Gramma: Protestant, maternal side, Republican.
Aside from my height, I also like to attribute my love of fashion and books to her. Some of my earliest political memories are hearing about her local political activities. She has strong views, but we always managed to find a middle ground in our conversations.
After my abortion in 2013 I posted an article on an old blog that was widely read in my friend group. Someone posted it to Facebook and it made its way to my grandmother. In that post I expressed how lonely I felt through the process, not just because I felt unsupported but also because I did not feel bad about my choice and that felt alienating, even among those who did support me. A sibling told me that she read it and gave me the heads up so that I could take the mature route and dodge her calls for 3 weeks until being called out on my avoidance.
When I finally picked up the phone, I was prepared for the haranguing of my life. I expected a lecture on how I had either broken her heart and disappointed her or for her to tell me that I was trash. I said hello, cleared by throat, ready to defend myself when I heard her sob that she felt bad because I felt that I couldn’t be open with her. She went on to assure me that she loved me, no matter what, and would always be there for me regardless of what she thought of my choices (something I am sure I challenge everyday!). Again, I was shown unconditional love where I did not think it possible to exist.
The vocal politics of these two matriarchs has always been a powerful influence on my own political activism.
And it with pride that I attribute my recent choice to be more open about my politics and my experiences to them and their unconditional love.
I don’t have a real closing for this post, so before I get too preachy let’s all raise a glass to my not being disowned…..yet.
Until next time.