ma·tri·arch: What it means...
woman head of family: a woman who is recognized as being the head of a family, community, or people
strong senior woman: a woman, usually a grandmother, who is highly respected by her family and to whom the family turns for advice and help
ma·tri·arch: What she looks like...
As our family's matriarch, Eleanor Felderhoff is a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother to roughly 50 of us crazies/ goofballs/ ftf-ers/outlaws/party animals. Saying that we love her just somehow doesn't seem to do justice for what she means to all of us...is there a word bigger than love?
As she struggles between this world and heaven, I'm stuck here in California unable to hold her hand one more time. There are a few us in the family stuck in places far away from home that I know are feeling the same way I am. The only way I can describe this feeling is that it sucks. Big time.
We are a tight unit, this FTF family of ours. Some people don't get it...they wonder how in the world do that many people in the same family like each other that much? Well, it starts with our matriach, Grandma Felderhoff, to me. What she and our patriarch, Grandpa Felderhoff, started June 19, 1951 is the reason we love each other as hard as we do today. **Grandpa was taken from this world far too soon...1997...but remains with all of us always.** Because of them, I know what a family is, what a family is capable of, and what it feels like to have roughly 50 people in my corner at all times no matter what.
What Grandma and Grandpa taught their kids, my Dad, aunts and uncles, has been passed down to all of us grandkids, and then on to our kids, the great-grandkids. As a family, we won't always agree with each other, we won't always like the choices of others, we may bicker and argue, but the LOVE superceeds all of that. I know when Dusty and I made the decision to move to California, not everyone agreed or thought it was wise. My Mom and Dad struggled with it for longer than they will ever probably tell me. They voiced their concerns as any smart parent would do, but always said, "We love you and support you." When I let the rest of the family know we were moving, all I got in return was support, love, and prayers. They will never know how much that meant to me...I still have the emails saved.
We know, without a doubt, that we will always be there for each other, even if its not physically. As most of you know, we lost my Grandpa on my mom's side of the family back in January. Luckily, I was still early enough in my pregnancy and no complications/ risk factors had developed yet, so I was able to travel home for it. Every one of my aunts and uncles from my dad's side, who could physically be there, were there. And the ones that couldn't come, let us know they were thinking of us. And sweet, sweet Grandma Felderhoff, who was dealing with her own sickness, came to the funeral in the bitter cold winter weather. That's what I meant when I said I always know I have 50 or so in my corner at all times.
I've got amazing cousins that are as close to me as brothers and sisters. Some people grow up with tons of good friends...I have my cousins. We are all insanely proud of our family and care about each other like crazy. It runs in the family. My aunts and uncles are the best in the business. I adore them. We are this way because of what my grandparents started.
I know for me personally, the thought of Grandma being gone leaves me feeling "lost". What happens now? When Grandpa passed, it was so tremendously hard on everyone, but we still had Grandma at the helm. Now what? Who is our compass? What happens next? Do I still get to visit her house that I have so many cherished memories of when I go back?
I haven't been back to Muenster since my Grandpa passed in January and it could be November before we are able to get back again. All I can think of is how much my next trip to Muenster will be different. It makes me sad.
Whenever anyone talks about my Grandma, they usually say the same thing about her: she is so proud of her family. SO proud. She never missed an opportunity to brag about any one of us. Every single card I've received from her always says how proud she was of me. It's because of her devotion to our family that gives us more than enough reason to make her proud. Does she know how proud we are of HER? I hope so...
Here's what I do know...when Grandma is finally released from this world and reunited with our Grandpa, we will have our shoulders full of guardian angels.
WE LOVE YOU, GRANDMA!!!!!!