By Joyce Hurd

For International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the daily impact women have on our lives. This essay honors a grandmother who met all of the challenges life threw at her with hard work, faith and love.

woman and a baby

My grandmother, Eva, immigrated from Canada as a girl and married another immigrant – William, nicknamed Bunt, from Scotland. He was a talented tool and die worker, fun-loving, spirited, and as she might call him, a wise-acre. She was shyly beautiful, and although not educated past high school, she had a cracking brain. And though she didn’t know it yet, an iron will. Together they started a small family in Danvers, Massachusetts. Their first-born, my father, Stewart, was born completely deaf. My grandmother was 19, it was 1927, and there were little information and fewer resources for them. Others in their position opted for institutionalizing their handicapped children. My grandparents did not. Together they provided my father with love and support – but an unusual kind. One that was loving, but brooked no excuses for hiding behind a handicap. My dad was expected to do chores, run errands, participate in family life. My grandparents taught him to talk – and once he started, he never stopped.

When my dad was eleven, Bunt was killed in an industrial accident. By now, there was a two-year-old baby sister and a baby brother on the way. Without Bunt, without his income, Eva needed to find a way to keep her young family together. She took in laundry, tended other people’s children, cleaned houses – anything and everything a young, single mother might tackle during the Depression years. Her days were long and filled with hard work, but from tales shared around family gatherings later in life, there was music, there was dancing, there was laughter and make-do parties. But every memory that was shared always carried the element of the love that Bunt and Eva had shared.

I lived with my grandmother when I was a little girl and later spent many weekends and holidays with her. She was generous with her time, her love, and her lessons. At times, I chafed under her tutelage, but now I can appreciate her lessons for what they were. She was infallibly kind, generous, and, above all, open-minded – her house was filled with people from other ethnic backgrounds, other economic levels, and other religions. She was endlessly curious about others – she wanted to learn and understand. Eva, my beloved Gram, may not have been an educated woman, but she was a philosopher, a teacher, a benefactor to anyone in need. She may never have had a lot of money, but what she had, she shared. I recently acquired her diaries and read through them eagerly. They were a litany of her hard work, her friendships, her joy in little things like new curtains, or spending time with family. What I didn’t see, once, was a complaint about her losses, or the challenges they presented. I am sure they were there – and that she endured those dark times, but what I saw was a woman who faced adversity and met that challenge with faith and love.

Category: Nonfiction, SNHU Student