The Matriarch: My Nona's Legacy — Become My Own Lineage

I wrote this post in late August, and felt no calling to post it then. Today, I changed my mind. 

More often than not, there is a link between the physical manifestations showing up in our bodies and our emotional state of wellbeing.

Despite all my knowledge and understanding of this fact, I sometimes find myself having experiences that are intimately linked but I do not consciously know how. …at least, I do not consciously make the link between the two.

For the past number of days I have been experiencing what in allopathic medicine we call “anxiety” – shortness of breath, irrationally emotional, inexplicable nervousness, nausea. I knew what I was experiencing is considered anxiety, and I felt as though I had nothing to be anxious about –as if it’s a rational feeling!

I also knew that anxiety, as it presents in the body as the final frontier, is not irrational or inexplicable –it has root causes that sometimes we are not aware of.

What was I not aware of?

During yet another powerful BSI (Body Spirit Integration) treatment with Sheila Winter Wallace I mentioned this anxiety to her, and her question led to a discovery about myself. She asked me “is there anything in your life you feel you need to grieve but perhaps have not allowed yourself to grieve?”.

Whoa. Bang on. A wave of this is exactly it took over my body.

In the last few days I have been passively thinking about the fact that the death anniversary for my two grandmothers is coming up –they both died in August, a year apart. It will be a year for my Nona (mother’s mom) and two for my Nena Deko (father’s mom). I have been thinking about what their death has meant on this realm –the death of the matriarchs of the family. While my Nena Deko’s unintentional life and death message was one of living life to the fullest now, I have been unclear about my Nona’s message.

I feel now I have a clearer understanding.

My Nona was the kind of old woman tremendously well respected everywhere she went. She had been a widow for 20 years and wore black every single day as a sign of respect toward her dead husband despite what all the rest of the family thought about it.

She had no tolerance for bulshit, and she let you know what she thought no matter what you thought. She had a kind temper to her, when she lit up, you knew she meant business. She had little tolerance for disrespect, and knew well the ways of life and how to treat each person. She knew, for instance, an old man in Albania had certain ideas about life and those ideas are to be respected by a youth like myself –despite how I (and she) disagreed. She knew the ways of old, and the ways of new. She was both traditional, and modern. She never questioned my “decency” or “respectability”, even though she knew damn well what I was up to. She understood the customs of the different cultures she resided in (Albania, Greece, Italy), and she expected people act in accordance.

She had the sweetest laugh, she laughed with her entire soul and it showed. She adored her family, and would do anything for us. She never wrongfully accused anyone of anything, and if someone had wronged her, she forgave but never forgot. She was no simpleton, but knew her cards and when to play them. She treated everyone with respect and courtesy, and helped in any capacity she could. She literally went to every single funeral that happened in her city.

She was wise and kind and compassionate. I just loved how she had no tolerance for nonsense, and she let you know.

I wish had written down all her stories so I can recall them in her own words. Though that’s not possible, what I can never forget is her essence when telling those stories. I just loved our afternoons together where we’d sit and sip coffee or lay on the bed and just talk about everything. She did not shy away from any conversation, no matter how tough.

When she looked back at life, she had no regrets, despite all the hardships she had endured throughout.

Despite her age, whenever I would visit her she would take such great care of me. I believe that she literally saved my life once.

And she did this for all her grandchildren, wherever she lived.

She was the glue that tied our family together. Anytime I would visit, she would come with me to whichever country or city I would be in – and I would follow her where she would be also. She was the most important person to me during these travels.

She was real, honest. I could always count on her word for anything.

She was fire energy, personified.

She was the matriarch of the family.

What I’ve known since her death is that both the matriarchs of our family have now passed. Because my Nena Deko had Alzheimer’s the last 10 years of her life, I believe I came to associate my Nona as the head matriarch. It also makes sense –she was the mother of my mother, and that is so powerful, in and of itself.

When she passed, so much went with her. The family home that I associate with my most pleasant childhood and travel memories, the home that my mom was born in and the home that my Nona lived in until she passed, is now an empty house. The metaphor here is powerful. This is the home where I’ve created countless priceless memories –and all of them include her in them. Whether it is me running toward her as a child and getting money for the third piece of cake for the girls from Elbasan, or me walking in as an adult after a day at the beach and having her greet me with such joy and food, or sitting in her veranda every evening and chatting about anything and everything, all my memories of that home include her in it. That home was filled with love and joyous memories that will forever continue to shape me.

Now, it feels like it is an empty house whose walls are falling apart.

Sheila’s question brought forward all of this – I knew I was feeling it, in the background, but did not allow it to come to the forefront…to integrate. And I think it will take time. Grief, as it turns out, manifests itself in so many different ways and inserts itself in so many of life’s paths that we may not be aware of its existence. Yet, when it is not metabolized, it persists.

For me, it showed up as low grade anxiety –felt right at my chest, throat, and head. From a CODE Model perspective, the chest area (fourth chakra) is the energetic centre where cultural conditioning takes place. For me, I have been conditioned to believe I am youth and my elders always know best – despite my personal experiences. The throat chakra (fifth) represents the choice point, the now…if there is a dilemma in choice, it presents itself here. And the head (sixth and seventh chakras) represent a shift in identity – who I believe myself to be and who and what I AM.

Through conversation with Sheila and the BSI treatment, what became clear to me is that while I grieve the loss of the matriarchs, they always live within me. This recent episode of what I perceived as anxiety which is really information stagnated in flow has presented itself because I am ready to take on the role of the matriarch in my own family.

I have become my own lineage.

The metaphor couldn’t be clearer –given this powerful life force that is growing inside of me.

My Nona is alive and well within me. I do not need permission to take on the role that has been modeled for me – in this time of transformation, of identity shift to a mother, I AM the matriarch of my family, of my own life. I have nothing to fear, nothing to do but to be myself and tell my Truth –something that my Nona has modelled to me. I do not have to wait to be 70 or 80 to speak my Truth, as I see it in the moment, or to be fiercely compassionate and loving and caring, or to know the power of the wisdom contained within me without the need for external validation. I know who and what I am, and I know my place in the natural world. I am, and have always been, a fiery fierce force where Truth lives. I no longer seek justice for all, and I will not turn my back on my life and those whose lives I impact. I know the power of contagion, for I am that creative force of existence.

My Poem to Her

Nga ty kemi mësuar. 
Gjithë kjo familje,
Gjith dashurinë për një njeri tjetrin.
Sado të shperndar nëpër bot, jemi të afert jemi të bashkët dhe të gezojm.
Të gezojm jeten që na ke dhën.
Të gezojm dashurin dhe lumturin.
Të gezojm njëri tjetrin.
Sado që jemi ndar me kontinente,
Na ke lën mbrapa në këtë bot të aferm, të sinqert, të fort, si ishe dhe vet.
Nuk harrohen historitë që na ke thën, fjalet e embla dhe të qerta.
Kurr nuk më mohove të vertetën.
Sado e vështirë për të dëgjuar. Ishe grua e pa pare, në cfardolloj aspektin që të mendohem.
Tani tu mbyllni syt, vajte te takosh gjyshin, vllain, nenen, baben ...
Do na vi dhe ne rradha, mbase do zoti, takohemi prap.
Deri athere pa, do më marri malli për zërin tat, për historirat dhe humoret e ndryshme.
Për dallandyshet dhe folezen e tyre.
Se ju iku nëna, duhet të flutorojn vet.
Po ka njëri tjetrin, dhe gjithmon fluturojn përpjet.
Na ke lën uratën, me qindra herë, e dije që këtë çans kishe, dhe gjithmon na the.
Fjalet që duhej, me dashuri,
Energia jote, gjithmone do na ndej që jemi "ne shtëpi" Në bacën tënte, që na ka sjell aq shumë lumturi. Me mira femi!
Lozin, gëzojn, turren sa andej ketej.
Të gjithë ndjejn qetësi, se jan në shtëpin e Nones tyre.
Shtëpia që i rriti të tër ... një e një, me dashuri.
Na ka marr malli, qe tani. Për njëri tjetrin, për atë shtepi.
Po jemi me fat, se na rrite ti.
Cfar dite! Dit e shenjt.
Athere ta mori zoti shpirtin.
Të dy nënat e mia, iken në ditën e shenjtë të gushtit.
Ska mundesi të jet cast I rastit.
Keto dy gra, që jetuan jet me paster, u bekoi zoti deri momentin e fundit.
Si shmangemi dot vdekjes,
Nuk ka mundësi.
Por ato të dyja vdiqen në një muaj, me paqe, me familje, ne qetësi, dhe me dashuri.
Na lan pas uratën dhe të gjitha çfar na kanë mesuar.
Mbi te gjitha, ndjej që jemi plotesisht, të gjithe të bekuar.

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