The other night, a discussion of genetics and heredity came up. With all our modern medicine and medical technology, DNA is who we are. Those tiny strands of those who came before us all intertwined to make us who we are, make us feel the way we feel. If you think hard enough about it, you can see bits and pieces of your ancestors lurking about inside you.
This conversation brought to my mind something that I have known but didn’t really give much thought until now.
My maternal grandmother had a nervous breakdown after the birth of her fourth child. My mother was in the 8th grade when this happened. She was the oldest child so the responsibility fell to her to help care for this new born baby and help her other two siblings, one of which has never been able to walk around without assistance. So in the 8th grade, my mother assumed a maternal role for her siblings and attended school.
My grandfather and his mother were there of course but my mom took on the responsibility of an adult at a very young age. My grandmother was hospitalized and given the best care possible back in those days.
Growing up, we didn’t know anything about that. She was the kind of woman who was nervous. She was terrified of thunderstorms, making us sit down on the couch and wait out the storm or if it was a bad storm she would make us go to the cellar. She did her best to please everyone around her. She was as hard working woman as you would ever want to see.
She was a no nonsense kind of woman before all this happened. She could fight with the best of them. She would take so much but when she had enough, she would put the smack down on you. She would also give you the last crumb of bread from her table if you asked her for it.
Of course, her tendency to worry was passed down to my mother, I have watched them both worry and fret over things they can’t change. My mom still does it to this day. And sadly, I have inherited the worry gene.
After my husband’s transition, my mom talked more openly about this time in her life. My mother watched me very closely. She was worried that it would happen to me. So far, I have managed to keep it together. Although some might argue the point, I think I have done well.
I am very much like this woman, my grandmother, who experienced this sickness. It is a sickness. She battled other things like diabetes and strokes, which is what eventually caused her death. She was 55. I am 46. This comes to my mind. Did her worrying so much cause her problems that led to her stroke?? I don’t know the answer to that for sure but am certain it didn’t help her.
This was the woman that I stayed with as a small child. I will admit and my cousins will agree that I was “her pet”. She would always make sure I was taken care of with an extra pinch of TLC. She loved us all but I was very much like her. We had a special bond. When she died, my mind to protect itself ,blocked out any remembrance of her in the casket. I remember my dad waking us up and telling us that she had passed away. I can remember songs, people and things happening around me. I can’t put her there at all.The same thing happened after my husband passed away, there is a 6 month gap in my memory.
The event of my grandmother’s passing was the catalyst to me gaining weight. I was eating to fill the void she left in my life. It didn’t work. It never does. Ironically, when my husband passed away the reverse happened. I lost weight. I was in such a deep state of grief that food didn’t matter to me at all. Add walking my legs off to the mix, I lost weight rather quickly. I have managed to keep it off. I feel better not carrying around the extra weight, I can bend over and still breathe.
Genes do not unravel easily. For my own health I am trying to break a habit that runs through at least 3 generations. I AM TRYING. Old habits die hard!! I would however, like to live past the age of 55, if that is what God chooses for me.
I am a work in process. I am learning different relaxation techniques from meditation to tapping (tapping on designated pressure points to relieve anxiety and stress). I will do my best to succeed. If not ,the plus is that it stops, with me.