Ann Bedford is a pseudonym. The real Ann Bedford was my grandmother; a woman who raised three children with little to no help from her husband. But that’s “just how things were back then.” Grandma Bedford put her dreams on hold while she cared for my Uncle Dave, Uncle John, and my mom, Joanne. As soon as my mom was old enough, Grandma Bedford decided she wanted to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse. She enrolled in the college down the street and began taking classes, despite heavy resistance from her husband.
Grandma Bedford never got to realize her dreams. She never got to apply her amazingly selfless love and compassion to her patients and she never got to experience the kind of freedom that comes hand in hand with finally achieving a long-awaited goal. In 1977, the year my mom was due to graduate from high school, Grandma Bedford suffered an aneurysm. Ten days later, she passed away in the ICU.
I never got to meet my grandmother but her story breaks my heart. I can see the pain in my mother’s eyes every time she talks about her. I took her name to honor her memory and the memory of every woman whose dreams and goals were pushed aside because “that’s just how things are.” For every woman who stood at a kitchen sink wishing she was somewhere else as her fingers pruned in the soapy water and her children shrieked in the background. For every missed opportunity and the bitterness of regret.