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I Am Grandma Tutu, and I Teach Joy


On my late night drive home from the airport I was listening to a wonderful radio program about different Native American tribes and their customs. I was especially fascinated by their description of the role of women. The report emphasized that many tribes were egalitarian and women were honored for their power and sought out for their wisdom. Women had a respected and appreciated voice as peacekeepers, and the role of the grandmother was an essential one… it was to teach joy.

With the images of my grand babies still floating in my memory bank and the sounds of their voices lingering in my heart I feel confident that I fulfill this role for them. I am their playmate, their soft place to land, the one who plays hide-and-seek with them and draws silly pictures. I plays pirates and outline their bodies with chalk on the sidewalk. I love to sing to them, and they don’t seem to mind my off-key voice. I have story line wrinkles on my face and hands that they love to explore. No question is off limits, and they can trust I will always answer them honestly. We have deep conversations over ice cream, look at bugs together, and I am the silly grandma willing to go on the slide with them at the park. We walk, we talk, we bounce, and we hug. We sing, rock, and I make up bedtime stories making them the super hero. I am the first one to volunteer to change a diaper or wipe a bottom for my love for them is unconditional. I treasure the intimacy… the in-to-me-see that evolves in this moment-by-moment living. It feels so good to give love, and be loved so much in return. Joy describes the aura of who we are when we are together and captures what fills our hearts, then comforts us when we are apart.

After departing the hurried pace of the LA area, gracefully enduring a delayed and very full flight, and leaving behind the Seattle traffic I felt ease embrace me as I crossed the Hood Canal Bridge that links a busy form of civilization where they live to the peace and slow pace of the Olympic Peninsula I now call home, and a part of my heart always remains with them.

So if I ever wonder what my purpose truly is in this life all I need do is remember that I stand on the shoulders of the ancestors and elder women peacekeepers of the great northwest and beyond. I am Grandma Tutu, wise woman, doula for living each moment fully. I am now and elder, a crone. I love big and I teach joy.

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