Who Is That Strong Woman?

  • THOMAS WIDEMAN
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  • Jun, 29 , 21

My Grandma was the central figure of my childhood. She was my rock.

I moved in with her to look after her when I was fourteen and lived with her until I graduated from college. Living with Grandma and getting to observe her life every day was one of the greatest gifts God ever gave me.

I’ve been told that through my teenage years I had an unusual self-awareness and understanding about situations. It’s because of Grandma. Observing the way she lived her life, the way she loved and cared for people, the way she responded to difficulty and disappointment…it all affected me deeply.

Grandma’s life wasn’t easy. She faced challenges that could have drained the life out of anyone. But she lived with grace and strength and a resolve to make a difference in the lives of her family and friends. I tried to capture her character and the difficulty and beauty of her life in a poem I wrote about her.

Who is that strong woman
That has had many titles?
To her employers, she was a housekeeper,
nanny, cook, cotton picker, and parent.
But for her family, she was a doctor, chef, counselor,
mediator, motivator, psychiatrist, and much more.
Who is that strong woman?

 

Who is that strong woman
That lived in a house infested with rats and roaches,
But cleaned large houses in affluent neighborhoods?
At times, her measly, out-of-pocket, housekeeping wages
were not enough to pay the rent or all of the bills;
Yet, she kept a place for us to stay,
the lights on, and food on the table.
Who is that strong woman?

 

Who is that strong woman
That alone raised eight children, eighteen
grandchildren, and twelve great-grandchildren?
With the exception of a few, all of them have
been successful in some fashion or another.
She has generated a nurse, truck driver, clinical therapist,
chemical engineer, X-ray technician, a pool of chefs,
janitor, barber, assistant manager, and many more.
Who is that strong woman?

 

Who is that strong woman
That was forced to be a tough woman at a young age?
As a child, she was punished because she
would not stand up to a guy bully.
In fact, she was told that she would continually
be punished for the same outcome,
The next day, she fought back by ramming
the guy’s head into some cow manure.
Who is that strong woman?

 

Who is that strong woman
That would go to the ends of the Earth for her family?
During a time where the Knight Riders
in white sheets terrorized the streets,
She would walk alone miles in the dark to work.
How could a woman be so fearless?
Who is that strong woman?

 

Who is that strong woman
Who always placed her family’s
well-being before her own?
When her kids got in trouble, she would
always be there to rescue them if possible.
When she couldn’t, she would fall on her knees and pray,
Her strong relationship with God has
watched over all of her kids
Who is that strong woman?


Who is that strong woman
Who has only cried three times in twenty-nine years?
She lost her oldest daughter to a heart attack,
youngest child to drugs, and her mother to old age,
But she cried away her pain and
sorrow for each momentarily,
then stood tall for her family.
Who is that strong woman?


Who is that strong woman
That is slowly approaching eighty years of age,
But continues to cook, run errands, and
care for people her age and older?
Actually, she has done this her entire life,
How could her heart be filled with
that much love for people?
Who is that strong woman?


Who is that strong woman
Who walks gracefully and without fear,
But has the power to discipline you with a simple stare?
She had sons that would constantly fight,
a grandson who almost burned the house down,
and daughters who would stay out late into the night;
Yet all of them graduated from high school.
Who is that strong woman?

 

That woman is my grandmother, Rosa Mae Wideman
And she represents millions of women of her time.
These women believed in building strong
families and attending church.
There was nothing they wouldn’t do for their families.
Take the time now and visit your mother,
grandmother, or great-grandmother.
Tell them that you love them and how much you care,
Because when they are gone, you can’t get them back.


The lowest point in my life was when Grandma died. Even now, I take comfort in her wonderful legacy of love and wisdom.

Many of the lessons I share in Welfare Cheese to Fine Caviar are lessons I learned from Grandma…lessons I want to instill in my two young sons.

- Treat everyone with respect and love.
- When things in your life aren’t going well, don’t look for someone to blame. Create your own future.
- Treasure your family and friends.
- Never let life be just about you.

             

            The best way to honor our loved ones and their memories is to live our best life and help others do the same.

             

            Invest in someone’s life change.

            I hope you’ll read Welfare Cheese to Fine Caviar and share it with a young person who needs a way forward! Maybe a high school student in challenging life circumstances. A young adult with decisions to make but no strong support system. A thirty-something who can’t seem to find their way.

            Grab the FREE Companion Guide for them!

            I’d love to hear about your connections to young people who could benefit from hearing my story. You can contact me here.

             

            Together, we can improve society one person at a time! 

            -Thomas

             

             

            What readers are saying!

            “I was immediately intrigued by the title of this book, and upon reading it, I was drawn in by the author's ability to be completely transparent with his readers. Indeed, a truly refreshing read that will resonate with all audiences. Treat yourself!!” -Tiffany Mount

             

            This was definitely an eye-opening real-life experience book that will enable you to gain wisdom both professionally and personally. I could not not put this book down. Awesome book!” -Randy Wilde

             

            “Unlike other self-help books, this one doesn't try to sell you a silver bullet. There's no magic elixir or fairy godmother who'll help you achieve your dreams. It's hard work, but Wideman shows you how you can do it by giving examples of how he achieved his goals despite the challenges he faced. A worthy read!”  -Ryan

             

            Featured in Kirkus Reviews

            As its title implies, this is a rags-to-riches tale. Raised in a poor household with three brothers, (Wideman) worked hard to get an education and succeed in the business world: “my life has come full circle from the cross-eyed little boy who grew up in the projects of Greenville, South Carolina to the successful family man living in Metro Atlanta,” he writes. This book is an account of that journey, complete with lessons he learned along the way. He shares stories of getting in fights with kids in his apartment complex and committing acts of petty theft with buddies. It was after a rumble with a former friend that Wideman decided he wanted a different sort of life when he grew up—away from the violence and stress of his old neighborhood.

            Wideman achieved the American dream the old-fashioned way, and plenty of his readers will want to follow in his footsteps.

            Read full review.

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