My Dad’s mom (who refused to let us call her Grandma because that made her feel old, so we called her Lulu) was not a nice woman.  She was especially mean to me and I was never sure why.  My mom’s pet theory is that I look like my dad who looks like HIS dad and she didn’t like him so she didn’t like either of us  (for she was never fond of or nice to my dad  either).  Anyway, let’s just say that Lulu and I were not close and when she died a few years back I felt vaguely bad but there was no real grief there.  I feel no guilt about my reaction.  I was never mean to her.  I always gave her more respect than I felt she deserved  and we were not close.  Our relationship was what it was and I’m sure that if I’d been the one who died first, her response would have been about the same.

Just recently though, I’ve found a new and quite unexpected respect for the woman for a choice that she made well before I was ever born that had a HUGE impact on our family.  You see, Lulu was a battered woman and she found the courage to pack up her two very small children and leave my Grandfather for good.  This was back in the 1940’s.  There were not a lot of single mother’s back then, and I’m sure this must have been extremely difficult for her.  It’s too bad we never discussed it while she was alive.

A while back I shared that my sister has been digging through our family tree.  Well, it’s chock FULL of wife beaters on my dad’s side.  Generation after generation of wife beaters who begat wife beaters.  Lulu broke that chain of abuse.  My Grandfather beat the crap out of her and she left when my dad was less than two and his sister was a baby.  He never saw his dad again until he was a teenager and looked him up on his own.  If she hadn’t left, my dad would have grown up watching his dad beat his mom and then he almost certainly would have beaten my mom.  His sister would have watched her mom take the abuse and almost certainly would have grown up to accept that same abuse from her future husband.  If my dad had beaten my mom (which he never did) my sisters and I almost certainly would have grown up and married our own abusers.  Our children would watch us taking the abuse and would then grow up to either take it or give it (depending on their gender).  It’s a really hard cycle to break.  Yet this mean-spirited, difficult woman (whom I could barely tolerate) saved us all from that fate.

My dad didn’t beat my mom.  My sisters and I have all married men who would never touch us in anger.  My daughters are going to grow up knowing that it’s not okay to be hit and I know they won’t tolerate it.  My son will not abuse his future wife.  These are wonderful blessings that Lulu bestowed upon our family and I am thankful for them.

It’s a real eye opener when you think that the choices that my Grandmother made almost 70 years ago would have such far-reaching consequences for so many people today.  Perhaps the choices I make will someday take on the same importance.

…I hope I choose as wisely as she did.

So, thanks Lulu.  If you were alive today, I’d take you out to lunch and say thank you in person.  Maybe I’ll see you in Heaven someday.

For any woman who reads this and IS being abused, I urge you to leave.  My Grandmother saved our family from a LOT of pain.  If you won’t get out for yourselves, for whatever reason, leave for your kids.  So that they don’t grow up to perpetuate the abuse.  Think of your future grandbabies.  You CAN stop it.    Only YOU have the power to stop it.  I urge you to stop it now!

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