Most of my childhood was spent with my grandmother, she was a women quite ahead of her time. A woman somehow coerced by circumstances and social convention during her youth, married to a much older man because he was from a good family and handsome looks - because that was the ultimate goal in the late 30's and early 40's.
She was always of unconventional thought, very progressive yet extremely silent and careful to speak. Her way of showing affection was equally as peculiar. She wasn't like other grandmothers that baked cookies or took you to the park, no. Hers was more hard-knock-life. From a very early age we were taught the value of work and money by her; she would have us complete tasks around her little apartment. Whether it was cleaning, helping her with the craft dolls she made to sell for extra cash or doing her nails and styling her hair, we were always paid some cents - I more than my younger sister because well, according to her reasoning older kids needed more money - so we could understand that nothing is done for free in life, and one sometimes, if not more often will need to realize tasks that aren't as pleasant to us to make a living and survive.
Let me tell you, my grandmother wasn't a college gal, most definitely not. She was a bright woman with only a 5th grade education that brought up 3 children in mid 20th century Dominican Republic, during dictatorships and famine, with street smarts and strong perception. Her temperament was something to admire. Nothing could shake her, she had seen so much in her life that nothing scared or scarred her any longer. She was amazingly cunning and ingenious. She silently observed and had great intuition, knowing exactly when it was futile to raise her voice but making herself heard clearly when the time was right.
It was her ability to remain calm in circumstances that would otherwise break us into little pieces that was most puzzling to me. At times, I swore she was heartless, cold, but how wrong was I. During the past few years of my life, as I grow into a much more conscious adult I find myself reflecting on her persona. She unfortunately passed in 2012 but her voice, her sayings and presence are ever so vivid in my mind. There was so much I learned from her, unknowingly; and so many things I misunderstood.
My point is, stories do repeat themselves - possibly not in an exact pattern, yet circumstances are somewhat relatable - and strong women in your life do leave you with tools for you to fight, deal, build, love, nurture the next generation and stand firmly and walk steadfast. Yes, at first it may seem the generational gap is too wide, and we may misinterpret a lot, but one day it'll all come back to us and we'll be thankful for their time spent teaching us all they had to offer.
Photography: Sofia Emm @itssofiaemm
Location: SOHO, NYC
Do you have any strong women in your life you look up to?