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Two Years. It has been two years today since the world, and my heart, lost an amazing man. My Pawpaw. This man was so much more than a grandfather – or perhaps he was a grandfather in the fullest sense of the word. If you’ve followed this blog over from its Tumblr days or are friends with me on Facebook, you’ve seen me mention him more than once.

This second year of life without him as gone by much quicker than the first. I still burst into tears occasionally at how full my hearts feels when I think of him. I still smile and say “Pawpaw’s carlot” when I drive down North Clinton. His love and memory are still honored in my home and both of my children know who he is. Even if it’s only in reference to “Pawpaw’s guitar” that hangs in my 1 year old’s room.

And in the past two years, I’ve also grown in my thankfulness and gratitude for my grandmother. My Tutu. I’ve loved her always, and I was fortunate to share special pieces of my childhood – my foundation – with each of them. Cars and Country music with Pawpaw. A sense of learning and Maui with Tutu.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve grown up more in the last few years – I’m now a mother of two, crossed the dreaded mark of 30 and am advancing in my career – but, when people ask me “How do you do it all?”, I’ve never had an answer until now. Lately, I’m beginning to think it’s because I’ve been blessed by the the example of the women before me. Allow me to brag a little…

My Tutu and Pawpaw were both small business owners. However, Tutu delayed starting her business until the kids were older. She took her skill (hair styling) and moved it from her bathroom to a retail location. Not only did she start this salon, but she taught at a local beauty college as well. She ran the salon and employed many for more than 10 years. And, while she was running her own business, she was keeping the books for my Pawpaw’s carlot as well. Oh, and running the home. All the while, being generous with a hug and smile and inviting people into her life – to call her Tutu.

I’ve never asked her but I’m sure she was worried like we all are about a work-life balance. I do know that whatever she did worked because I felt like I had some of the best quality time with her baking, crafting, singing, swimming, learning and of course, growing at Camp Tutu.

All that might sound impressive on its own, but let me tell you a part you don’t know. Tutu and Pawpaw started their family at a young age. By the age of 22, they had four little girls under the age of five. That’s exhausting for most of us in our 30s to think about, let alone the young age at 22. However, she raised her girls and still went on to have her own business and be a terrific grandmother.

It’s never something we’ve talked about together. I don’t think it’s something I’ve even talked about with my mom. But sometimes, talking isn’t necessary. Tutu has led us women by example. I’m pretty sure her determination and tenacity were passed on to my mother, who at one point was working both the night-shift and day-shift as a single mom so that my sister and I could stay in our private school and live in the neighborhood we grew up with. My mom has one of the highest work ethics I have ever seen. I think part of that had to do with Tutu’s example. For me, these women come to mind when asked the question, “When do you sleep?!”. I’m pretty sure all three of us would have the same response…”When I’m done.”

And so today, I remember with gratitude the man who loved me and the woman who walked beside him on his journey – loving him and others along the way.