Ingrid Kellaghan: Remembering My Grandmother

July 22, 2011

Dear Friends,

Today I take a step away from my usual blog topics to share with you that my beloved 92 year old maternal grandmother passed away this week. She was an integral part of my life. We were incredibly close and I’m reeling from the loss.

My grandmother was quit simply the most  extraordinary woman I have ever known.

My grandmother fled her native country of Latvia during WWII with her daughter (my mother) still in her womb. Her husband was killed. Family members were slaughtered. Her sibling, a young physics professor, was taken away to a concentration camp.

No safe haven.

No place to go.

No belongings.

Nothing in front of her but her next step.

She  walked with a small group mostly at night that included her sister-in-law. Sympathizers would throw bread or bits of food. Jumping on and off trains when they could but never knowing when it would be sprayed with bullets. After giving birth to my mother she lived outdoors for many months hiding in old farmhouses or wherever she could find refuge. As a newborn my mother suffered from dysentery, most likely from being a nomad in the first moths of her life, lack of basic hygiene and inadequate nutrition from her mother’s breasts. Diapers were made from torn clothes. Changed, emptied and warmed from body heat under clothes.

After the War, concentration camps were converted to Displaced Person Camps to house refugees. My grandmother raised my mother in a Displaced Person Camp in Germany.  The DP’s  were overpopulated and provided the barest of necessities. They shared a room with another family with a hanging sheet separating their space.  My grandmother met a wonderful man and remarried in the DP camp, but sadly he passed away.  In 1957 my grandmother and mother were granted permission to immigrate to the United States. (My Moms best friend discovered their ships manifest.  Click here to read.)

Despite my grandmother seeing the dark side of humanity she was a beautiful example of kindness, courage, generosity,  determination, and love.   I loved her deeply.  I admired her deeply.  She was a small petite woman – but mighty. She was gentle and spoke softly, just above a whisper. She was a true lady. She had exquisite taste and was a gracious host. Her table settings were breathtaking.  She loved cooking, baking and tending to her substantial  flower, vegetable and fruit gardens. Her needle work was flawless. She dressed impeccably which reflected her meticulous and exact nature. She was humble and unostentatious.

Grandma held a deep love and respect for America and our military.  Hearing the national anthem could move her to tears,  yet her sensibility remained very European, as did my mothers.  As I child I felt like I grew up with one foot in America and the other foot in Europe and I loved it. It taught me to see the world through a rich multinational and multicultural lense.

Grandma was fluent in 4 languages, including English, yet she spoke Latvian to me and I responded in English. It was our special thing.

Having family members who learned English as a second language taught me that spoken words can be fallible but a persons actions are not.  One may be fluent in a 2nd language but that language is not truly mastered until the nuances and subtext of that language are understood.  I can remember coaching my mother and grandmother, “you should consider saying it ‘this way’ instead of  ’that way’” to protect them from unintentionally offending or confusing the local American ear. To this day when I speak with someone I listen for understanding and assume the best until proven otherwise.

To strangers my Grandma could be perceived as aloof and austure.  Her favorite movie was “Driving Miss Daisy” probably because  her personality was so much like Daisy Worthem’s – quick witted, spicey and stubborn. Grandma never learned to drive so when she was being driven to her requested destination she’d  say, “time to drive Miss Daisy” with a twinkle in her eye.

A life well lived is not defined by money, status, or material success, but by love, by connection, and making choices that really matter. I will work hard to preserve the memory of my grandmother so my daughters never forget the matriarch who came before them. I hope her life inspires them, as it has me, to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.  To champion social justice – no matter how controversial or complex. To take a stand, even when everyone around you is sitting down. Speak truth to power. Advocate for the vulnerable and marginalized – even if doing so could have an adverse impact on one’s self. You see, real courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s the willingness to face it in spite of being afraid. It is not those who can inflict the most, but those that can suffer and endure the most who will conquer. Love and truth always win. Always.

End of life is hard to grasp. There are moments I feel I can catch my breath, but I know I will get through it – because my grandmother showed me how to rise.

“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.”

With Incredible Love,

Ingrid Kellaghan

 

 

 

 

Goo-Goo-Ga-Ga over Pediped

July 12, 2011

It’s official. We love pediped®

Thank you pediped for donating your revolutionary shoes to Cambridge Nanny Group’s parent/nanny orientation attended by new Mom’s and Dad’s. We are goo-goo-ga-ga over this product. And you will be too. We’ll post pics of the lucky Mommy who wins this spectacular product next month.

From its inception, pediped® has designed footwear to promote healthy foot development. Our mantra has always been comfort, quality and style, in that order. This is why pediped® shoes were among the first children’s footwear to be awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance for promoting healthy foot development. You can rest assured that pediped® is a footwear company that cares about the health and well being of your child’s growing feet.

Comfort

pediped® footwear is made with premium grade, non-toxic leather. Foam insoles & cushions provide a comfortable fit, along with padded heels to absorb shock. pediped® simply offers the ultimate in comfort and protection while promoting healthy foot development.

Quality

Unsurpassed quality and craftsmanship have earned pediped® footwear a loyal following. Premium grade leather, distinctive styling and remarkable attention to detail have resulted in truly exceptional shoes. pediped® footwear has caught the attention of parents, grandparents and celebrities alike.

Style

With over 120 fashion‐forward styles to choose from, pediped® strives to give parents the look they want, at a price they can afford, all the while being healthy for children’s feet.

pediped Originals®, Grip ‘n’ Go™, and Flex® have been officially recognized by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) as being beneficial for children’s growing feet.

To purchase visit www.pediped.com or visit your local child’s shoe store.
For more information on our Pediped giveaway please email laura@cambridgenannygroup.com


Cambridge Nanny Group
4707 N Broadway
3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60640
Telephone: 773-856-5525 

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