Threading The Needle Through Five Generations of Fierce Females

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One of my greatest blessings was to have my grandmother Ruth in my life for 38 years. She was there for my wedding and for the birth of all three of my children. Because of Ruth, I can trace many generations of women in my family and celebrate the traits and wisdom they passed down: 

Strength and Independence    

Looking back, I gave credit to my grandmother for bringing our “strong, independent woman” mantra to life. A stranger would have never known that Ruth lost her own mother at the age of 7. Without any maternal guidance, she became the most loving matriarch of our family, not to mention an extraordinary chef and one heck of a fashionista. Some might have described her as a force to be reckoned with, but in a good way. And through the magic of genetics, her strength has threaded its way through our family all the way down to my now 25-year-old daughter who enjoys letting people know (with humor) that she’s a strong, independent woman.

Bravery and Perseverance 

Tracing resilience back to Ruth had always been my go-to until I sat down to write this article and started thinking about my full genetic female lineage. The story of Ruth’s mother, Dora, as we have pieced together, also paints a picture of great bravery and perseverance. Dora was the youngest of seven children and the last to leave her parents behind in Lithuania in the late 1800s. She had two sisters who were often described as being tough as nails, but it was her sister Mary who sent for Dora to come to the United States. After bravely making the journey by herself around the age of 20, Mary introduced Dora to her brother-in-law, Morris, and it was love at first sight. They married and had four children, Elsie, Jack, Ruth, and Leonard. Sadly, tragedy tore through their happy family when Dora succumbed to an unidentified illness and passed away at the age of 38.

Determination and Talent  

Dora’s daughters lived on to show signs of their mother’s genetics. Their daughters also benefited from Dora’s strong genetics and inherited her bravery and perseverance. Dora’s granddaughters became women not to be messed with: cancer survivors, business executives, nurses, and music educators — smart and talented women who bulldozed past roadblocks that dared to get in their way, all devoted to their families and up to just about any challenge. Thinking about them collectively leaves me amazed by the genetics. Even adding other family’s genes into the pool only seemed to enhance the strength and determination of our female line.


Dora’s great-granddaughters have also continued this trend. At 55, I think I’ve been a good example of persevering through life’s unexpected hurdles. We range in age over four decades, and I think Dora would be proud of every single one of us. Women waking up with a purpose to face each day as our best selves while possessing the ability to deal with whatever curveballs might be thrown our way. Based on our family history, this is how I see a young Dora facing a journey across the ocean and a health crisis that ended her life. I believe she did everything possible to battle her illness during a time when her medical options were limited. A brave woman who left her parents behind knowing she would never see them again could have done incredible things if she had lived among her accomplished great-granddaughters at a time when things could have been so different.

Spirited and Strong-Willed       

And finally, not to be left out is the fifth generation of this family. My daughter is the eldest female and is currently pushing through a grueling master’s program on her way to becoming an occupational therapist. The rest of the girls are still young, but based on what we know, I’m sure they are all high-spirited and strong-willed young women in progress. How could they be anything else?

Tags: Family, Mother's Day, Motherhood

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Written By

Shari Brauner

After 26 years as a stay-at-home mom, Shari is very grateful to Circle Around for allowing her to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a published author. See Full Bio

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