Definition of Strength

The Quality or State of Being Physically Strong

When we think of strength, more often than not we think of people who lift ridiculously heavy things over their head because… well I don’t know why people do that. Me? I think of my grandmother, affectionately dubbed Nannie.

No one could rock a hat and feather boa quite like this gal.

Now don’t get me wrong, my Nannie certainly wasn’t lifting weights like a bamf, or cruising the gym scene. But no matter, strength is still one of the first things I think of when I think of her. She was strong. And truth be told, if you annoyed her enough she could have easily knocked some sense into you, or followed through on her threats to put you through the wall. Of course she never did do that, and the Lord knows that took strength.

No, Nannie had a different kind of strength. The other definition.

Or a checkered bow for that matter.

The Capacity to Withstand Great Force or Pressure

Yeah, even this does not seem to encapsulate it completely. My grandmother’s strength was just more. So much more.

Her strength was in her hands, that crafted food and clothes for her loved ones, brushed our hair despite our complaints and determination to look like wild children. It was even in that pesky index finger that would point at you when you did wrong as she set us on the right path.

She needed cattle prods to keep these two in line!

It was in her arms as she hugged us tight, as she held our children, and carried us when we stumbled on our path. Or as she physically separated us when we decided to try our hands at MMA fighting.

Clearly debating life’s mysteries.

It was in her eyes as she watched all the silly little plays we forced our families to endure when we were young, or our truly cringeworthy attempts at concerts when clearly we were not musically inclined. (We actually still do this. It’s still cringy.)

It was in her voice as she soothed our worries, healed our hurts, eased our insecurities, and empowered our faith. It was there even when she gave us the hard truth we sometimes needed to hear.

It was in her mind as she listened to our stories, from the mundane to the fantastical, from the happy to the sad. She once listened to me prattle on about a band I loved for nearly the entire ride to New Hampshire though she had no idea who or what I was talking about. That takes strength, as now my daughter does the same and I’ve yet to last an hour.

Gluttons for irish music.

It was in every aspect of her actions, because her strength was so far beyond the ability to withstand. Her strength was her ability to withstand and create. Create a home. Create a family. Create a shelter for all of us when we needed it. Create a future.

Again with the hat!

Her love, her heart, her strength shaped our futures, and now we shape others. That is her legacy, and I can only pray that I will be able to teach my daughters and future grandchildren to be as strong as Nannie taught me to be.

Words cannot express how much you are treasured, and how much you will be missed. May you not facepalm too much while you watch over us from heaven. Love you.

Doherty Matriarch (March 19, 1930 – March 5, 2020)

Agus go mbuailimid le chéile arís, Go gcoinní Dia i mbos A láimhe thú.

And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hand

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