I believe Saturday was National Women’s Day. I’ve never even heard of this before, I’m such a sorry excuse for a woman! It did, however, get me thinking about all the strong, wonderful women in my life and one of the most important ones, without a doubt, would be my grandmother, Malulu.
Now she wasn’t Hawaiian, despite the sound of this name. I believe it was my cousin or older sister who gave her with this unique moniker. Her real name was Leona, and her nickname was Lulu. Therefore, Grandma Lulu became Malulu. She was always there in my life since she only lived 10 minutes away. Everyone loved her. She had this incredible wit and humor that she was always throwing out and making you laugh. Sometimes the things that would come out of this sweet little old lady’s mouth was shockingly hilarious. Her heart was huge. Enormous. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone make so many friends and take care of people the way she did. Even into her old age she always had people of all ages, who had known her throughout her life, constantly coming back just to see her again. Everyone she met, fell for her.
She died two years ago at the age of 99 (even though she told everyone she was already 100) in her bed at her home, still sound of mind. Once I did a report on her for school (you know, one of those “pick an old person and write about them, kids” kind of reports) and I learned so many things that just astounded me. Being born in 1912 and living through all the wars that she did, the Great Depression, just seeing how the world has changed in that time is incredible. The amount of hardships she had to endure, touches me. She lost her husband, the love of her life, (who she had known since she was a baby) to brain cancer, and was left with four sons and a daughter. Her brother, was killed in WWII, and she took in his son who she loved as her own. She battled breast cancer and survived. So many things I could go on and on that this woman went through and yet you would never know it. She was strong, loving, and so full of life. I have never met someone with such a powerful faith and contentment in life like she had. Whenever I was in trouble and would be sent down to her house so my mom wouldn’t have to deal with me, she always took me in her arms and made me feel better. We would then spend time taking walks into town and watching films like “The Godfather” until late into the night. She would write me the most heart warming letters of how proud she was of me and how we were so much alike. I had her wit and personality out of all of the family, she believed, and she adored that in me. Just listening to her secretly tell me how I was considered such a beauty out of our family by everyone meant more to me than any physical compliment I could receive. Especially for me, a girl with such low self esteem that considered herself quite ugly growing up, to hear her tell me, “remember that secret I told you?” every once in a while was uplifting. She was one of the only family members I could be around where I didn’t feel like I was being viewed as a bad person. Before she died, I talked to her on the phone since I was here in California. She could barely speak, but I could still hear the love and happiness in her voice when she said my name. She was thrilled to talk to me and that made my heart ache to be near her.
From memories of her tubing down the Chattahoochee River; waking me from my sleep on one of our family cabin retreats to see the raccoons that had come to the window; to hiking through the forest and letting us decorate her with Spanish moss and leaves; this woman gave me so many wonderful memories. If there was ever anyone for me to look up to and be like, it would be her. I have never met someone so pure in every way, someone so giving and down to earth as Malulu. I may have her wit and personality, but I am no where near the rest of her amazing qualities. If I could one day come even close to being the kind of woman she was, then that would be quite an accomplishment. To me, she is the epitome of what it is to be a good woman.