My grandmother Yvette after whom I am named, had given me a ring a few years before she died when she was still clear in her mind and strong in her body. She had told me: "take this ring now, because who knows whether in a few years I will be clear enough in my mind to recognize you" and so it was. Ten years later my grandmother's mind had gotten fuzzy, her body had dwindled and her spirit wanted out. Yvette died. And the years passed, without her distinct warmth, and last year my mother asked me whether I would like to receive my grandmother's fur coat. Yes I said, without even thinking twice.
Who wears a fur coat these days?
It is not politically correct when it comes to animal protection, not cold enough in Israel of 2017 to ever use it as a coat. And we don't lead an aristocratic kind of life afterall. We had many ideas of what the fur would become, a cover for the bed, a carpet in the salon, but in the end the fur coat is put to good use as a winter cover of my office chair at home, the chair I sit on to write my blog, poetry, musings and communicate with the world.
I am very happy with this decision. It feels as if I sit on my grandmother's nurturing lap, a lap that only wants the best for me, is supportive of my dreams and visions; Supportive of my path and choices and encouraging of my self- expression.
I look at my life on the vertical axis, and I see my great grandmother Victorin Camhi, Yvette's mother who was also a Zionist, as well as a Woman in Power. Victorin belonged to one of the good Athenian Jewish families, and had the luxury to occupy herself with fellow women's empowerment in both Greece and Israel. Victorin was active in establishing WIZO in Greece and in inspiring fellow Jewish women in joining WIZO's ranks.
Victorin's daughter, Yvette was a Woman in Power too. Her power in my eyes constituted in being a source of inspiration to all who knew her, in that after she lost her youngest son when he was already a mature young man, and a doctor in physics she found the strength to keep on living and celebrating life for her and her remaining family. Yvette was also a Woman in Power in that she created her own women's fashion business in Athens Creations Yvette that did well financially with her husband as her business partner to partake in her success. Yvette's power was a power of character, of stamina and perseverance despite all odds.
My mother Elda was on the one hand intimidated by all these powerful women she was surrounded by. How could one attain their level of success? But was it really that which my mother wanted? At the age of 45 and when being already a mother of three teen age kids, my mother enrolled in university and pursued academic studies in Psychology. A Woman of Power too my mother, in her own personal way, chose not to give up on her passion for education. Elda pursues it tirelessly to this day.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg, and I can't stress enough how safe it felt growing up surrounded by these lionesses, my grandmother Yvette and my great aunts Ketty, Frida, Esther and Nelly. They were like pillars of strength, pillars of solidarity, pillars of sisterhood, and companionship and to me pillars of inspiration.
I wanted to grow up and be like them, my models, women larger than life, who as my uncle Mario used to say in French "God Wants that Which Woman Wants" and indeed in my family it felt that women were demi-Goddesses and that their husbands who were strong willed too were accommodating to their wives' strong wills.
And looking at my life on a horizontal axis I realize that I always sought the company of women, circles of women, to recreate that sisterhood I had experienced among the crones in my childhood. It felt good, it felt safe, it felt nourishing, and I was looking to feel as supported I felt back then by my great aunts when they listened to each other and were of help to each other, and in short like sisters to each other.
And now as I am sitting on my grandmother's fur coat, I feel I can be honest, and can be weak, and can be strong, and can be myself and can be loved as I am, without needing to hide, without needing to leave parts of me behind, without needing to cut pieces of me to fit some narrow idea of who I should be. I can be whole, as in our sisterhood, with my very dear friends Shlomit, Merav, Dalit, and Hadar in our Jerusalem women's circle. And hey we are now opening our circle to receive more women in our midst, and for us Women in Power to inspire more women to be themselves and feel good under their skin.
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