A grandmother is by far, without a doubt, hands down the very BEST kind of mother. No disrespect to my own mother, or any other mother for that matter. It’s just that a grandmother, by her very nature, is a true and pure embodiment of the most precious of traits and characteristics that we treasure in our own mothers. But, so much more. And, then some...to the 3rd power…with sugar on top.
By social convention, a grandmother is thought to be soft spoken, pleasantly tolerant and traditional. Grandmothers are old-fashioned and proper in every way; in word and deed. They love to cook and they bake pies…lots of pies and they always wear an apron. It goes without saying that a grandmother is always agreeable, and is absolutely devoid of judgment or opinion.
While this may describe the common typecast of what a grandmother should be, it’s certainly not my grandmother! No, Henrietta Roussell was a true original…a one-of-a-kind. So unique and special, in fact that no contrived description of a grandmother could ever actually apply to her at all. She broke the mold and I can prove it.
Exhibit A: There was absolutely nothing soft-spoken about Henrietta Roussell, otherwise known as “MawMaw” by her grandchildren. She was sassy, matter of fact, unapologetically honest & virtually impossible to argue with. My PawPaw recounts a famous and frequent argument between the two of them where she accuses him of failing to pass on some random piece of information. “If you had told me, I would remember,” she insisted. How can you argue with that? You don’t. Genius.
Exhibit B: Mawmaw was indeed old-fashioned. But, only because she was, in fact, “old” by comparison to her grandchildren. A far more accurate description of her true character would be “contemporary”. As a curious child, I once asked her how she and my PawPaw met. Without hesitation, she proudly replied, “I picked him up at bar.” After I pulled myself up off the floor, she went on to very confidently brand herself a “cradle robber” since Pawpaw was in fact two years her junior. I would describe this behavior as nothing short of the cusp of modern feminism and extremely progressive for her time.
Exhibit C: Regarding the pies…yeah…there were no pies. But, Mawmaw definitely liked to eat pie and would gladly enjoy a slice or two just as long as somebody else made it. There were no aprons….But, there were nightgowns, lots of nightgowns (sometimes known as “moomoo’s). I don’t care what anybody says. It may not have been trendy or popular, but I think wearing a nightgown for the better portion of a day is completely fashion forward. It’s also very efficient. I also have it on good authority that cooking for her family was actually NOT the greatest joy of her life. As a mother, it takes real courage to admit something like that. As demonstrated, she was absolutely fearless.
Exhibit D: Mawmaw was faithful and recited the rosary and her prayers several times though out the day. I know this for a fact because it didn’t really matter what time of day or how often you called, her standard response to the question, “How are you doing today?” was always, “I’m just sitting here praying for all you sinners.” Although that might come across as being a bit judgmental, it was actually incredibly selfless. Instead of praying only for herself, she always remembered “us sinners” in a most self-sacrificing manner. This is altruism at its finest.
Clearly the mold was broken following the creation of Henrietta Agnes Goulas Roussell. Thank goodness, because I wouldn’t have wanted her any other way. She represents the most elite within the grandmother population…exceptional and irreplaceable in every way.
My grandmother is very much a part of who I am. She’s a part of all of us who were privileged enough to know her. I take comfort in knowing that we keep her memory alive as we share her likeness with our own children. They, in turn, will pass on her likeness to their children & to their children’s children and so on… keeping her memory alive for all eternity. Although she no longer walks among us, she will live forever in our hearts.
Happy Mother’s Day, Sugar Lips. Rest in Peace.
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Prof. Paige C. Davis