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More on Grandmothers

I heard an interesting idea on CBC Radio the other day, on one of the summer reruns. Canadian novelist Katherena Vermette was talking about her latest novel, The Strangers, which I liked a lot. It’s about family—grandmothers, mothers and daughters—and the complicated ties that bind generations together.

Vermette made the point that girl babies are born with all the eggs they will ever have. That means the egg that eventually becomes a child was actually carried in the child’s grandmother’s body, when the child’s mother was in utero. “We are housed inside of our grandmothers as much as we are inside of our mothers,” says Vermette.

What a beautiful thought! No wonder the bonds we have with our grandmothers can be so strong.

My family lost a precious grandmother a couple of months ago—Lillian (née Winters) MacLeod—the last of her generation on both the Winters and the MacLeod sides of the family. She will be missed, but as Alistair MacLeod says in his amazing story, “To Everything There Is a Season,” she leaves good things behind.

My mother-in-law, Lillian (née Winters) MacLeod, died a month before her 96th birthday. I was lucky to have her in my life and honoured to help her write her memoir, Looking Back on My Life: Stories to Tell My Grandchildren.

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