I have often commented about my mother, who I greatly admire. Who else could survive 25 years of proclivity for the bottle that brought about a failed marriage and the fracture of many of the major bones in her body from her unsteady state. Yet, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, she has put all of that behind her and emerged stronger for all the pain, and has never looked back. And, believe me, all 4 feet 8 inches of her is a force to be reconded with.
She is now the matriarch of her mother's family. (She was the oldest child of my grandmother, who was the oldest of eight siblings.) I think she has started to understand why all the cousins and younger generation visit her when they are in town and it is always important that she attend the family reunions. She is the center of it all, but she takes it in stride. You won't find her holding court. Hell, most of the time, you won't find her home.
But she is the quintessential southern woman. Not the prissy belle who is delicate and enchanting with that southern drawl, who is always prim and proper and would never say the wrong thing or make a disparaging remark about anyone. Who always stands by her man - you know the one (the man) who is always supposed to be there to take care of her. (This is the unfortunate image that somehow has emerged of us.)
No, she is the strong intelligent witty woman, who has loved and lost, who can recite Emily Post (if need be), and has a strong appreciation for her sterling silver. She was raised on a large tobacco farm (as old south as you can get), educated at Wake Forest, has the southern accent (that would get very thick the more she drank), and is a most thoughtful and devoted friend. She is the grandmother who (unbeknownst to the rest of us) called her granddaughter and explained to her, in no uncertain terms, that if she did not show up for her debutante ball, that she (my Mother) would take it personally (a threat my daughter had never heard before.) Needless to say, my daughter was at her Ball.
So when I tell a funny story or show some frustration on my part about my mother, I can assure you it is all in love. I only hope that I do not have to endure the pain and hardships she has in her life. But, should they be thrown my way, I hope I can carry forth, survive, and emerge with the grace and strength she has.