“I’m a fighter not a lover.” Well, that isn’t the case – I’m both, which I will get to in a minute – but there is a story behind this twisted saying that I wanted to share. It’s been on my mind lately. When Grandma Reid passed away in January 2017, an old childhood friend stopped by the funeral home to pay her respects. The two of us grew up together, and she worked with me and Grandma at the canoe livery for a summer or two. As we talked about Grandma, Melanie told me a story about her I’d never heard before. According to Mel, Grandma once said “I’m a fighter not a lover.” It struck Mel as so funny and out of character that she remembered it all those years later and thought to tell me. Knowing Grandma, a slip of the tongue became a memorable line.
What strikes me so funny and makes the entire thing so memorable is that I can easily see it going either way. It wouldn’t surprise me If Grandma intended to say she’s a fighter just to get a rise out of someone. She could tease mercilessly. Anyone who knew her knows she loved everyone. I am heavily biased, of course, but I cannot remember one instance in which she picked a fight. Instead, she loved on kids of all ages. Whether it putt-putt golf, a movie, or a trip to the mall arcade, she included everyone.
But Grandma did fight too. She stuck up for herself when needed and forged her way as a business woman at a time when most women stayed at home. I consider that fighting. Some of her best advice included stick up for yourself. I think that is why this comes to mind now.
In fact, if I think about it for a minute, I can take it one step further: All of us – every one of us – needs to fight for the life we want to live. We need to fight for happiness and what we want out of life. I continue to struggle doing just that, but I am fighting. As much as I would love to give up, I won’t. I am made of sterner stuff – and I am far too stubborn.
Why is it that we always think we have to be “one or the other” when we can be both? Your description of your grandmother is what I would call a “principled woman”. When words like courage, strength, fight, honesty, integrity, etc. are used they are not associated with a female. It seems these appellations are masculine and seldom do we think of women when those terms are used. In today’s world in order to be considered a “fighter” too many women think that to be so means you have to be on the same level as a man, do the same things he does, participate in some sort of physical battle and put yourself in a position your gender is not equipped or designed for. The women’s liberation movement focused on equality with men instead of development of their natural attributes that many times place them in a superior position. They “strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel”. Women can be as principled as men. They can have as much courage, strength, and integrity as their counterparts. Your grandmother “labeled” herself instead of letting someone else define who she was or what she was capable of. She drew a line in the sand and said “this is who I am and this is as far as I go with letting others define me.” She is a great example for you to follow
Thank you so much for this wonderful comment. Principled is a wonderful way to describe my grandmother -and you are correct. I learned so much from her. She taught me how to drive, customer service, and the basics of business. She also taught me what it means to be courageous in the face of bad circumstances. She suffered her share of tragedy in life, but she went on to create a great life for herself anyway.
She is definitely an example I try to follow, but it isn’t always easy. I am so lucky though. I had the opportunity to know most of my grandparents well growing up – and they were all as wonderful as Grandma Reid. I did know her best though, simply due to the fact I worked with her most days during the summer all throughout my high school years.
I am grateful I grew up surrounded by so much family.