I feel fortunate to have grown up around women who were unafraid to be themselves. Both of my grandmothers were powerful forces in my life. From completely different worlds, each one of them expressed her values with the kind of certainty that you could expect from a confident woman in a time when women's voices were scarcely heard.
I left Europe over 20 years ago and have not been back.
Circumstances can shape you and change the trajectory of life, but the influence of the values lived before us and into us, shall have an impact far beyond the reach of any circumstance.
My grandmother, Anna, whose surname I share, she was my father's mother, taught me that class is something you express with the size of your being not the size of your bank account.
I can't say that I have taken every lesson and made it my life's motto, but undoubtedly the love for rouge and perfume, the soap in my drawer, my habit of eating toast with butter and a stiff black tea, smiling when I'd rather take a punch, my ability to mince a word just so instead of said punch, are all a nod to her.
Anna dressed like a lady and hosted like one; she had just enough to say to let you know where you stood with her, she smoked like a sailor but sounded like the lady she was.
I am desperate for her streusel and marble cake, for how she made me feel like I mattered, but for now, I am just ever so grateful that a gloomy Saturday is stirring up a memory of her and reminding me that in my life I carry forward the legacy of women who lived strong, brave lives.
Amidst the romance of my memories, I know that she suffered greatly to live the life she had carved out for herself.
Both my grandmothers had that in common; each left a legacy of hard work and true resilience.