My dearest Grandmother, Mary Gladys Bedford, the iron rock, and matriarch of my family, divided from her physical this November 21st, 2013 at the tender age of 90 years young.
Grandma was the eldest of three beautiful “Coloured” children born into apartheid by way of St. Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, where she went to school, and worked our family’s farm before joining the International Red Cross in an effort to support the Allies during WWII. She met, and fell in love with my Grandfather Lloyd, a US Merchant Marine Engineer, at a down town dance (that she snuck-out to attend). He asked her to marry him, and she said yes.
Mary, like my Great-Uncle, and Great-Grandfather (who both survived multiple years of abuse via internment camps during Nazi occupation), are heroes, and members of the Greatest Generation, who all deserve our honor and respect.
Today; as we commemorate and mourn the passing of the great man Nelson Mandela, I find myself also memorializing the little old 4 ft. 9 lady from across the Atlantic, who defied what her home country said she could, and could not do… Be, and could not be…
During her era, my Grandmother met w/ the honorable Nelson Mandela whilst he was still indignantly imprisoned in a S.A. jail cell.
Grandma instilled that same sense of Mandela’s doggedness, diligence, devout pride and nationalism in her children, and her children’s children, and I will proudly continue to blaze that torch here in America.
Mary G. Bedford was a woman who, like Mandela, dared to be a heroine in her own rights, and succeeded in providing her progeny opportunities that she was denied in her time.
We love you Tata Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela, and I love you dearly, Grandmother!
Photos courtesy of www.buzzfeed.com.