Tuesday, September 23, 2008

to my great-grandmother, on our birthday

today i am 27 years old. and today, my great-grandmother, with whom i share a birthday and a name, would be 109.

"she couldn't ask for a better namesake," my grandmother said as we wished gram a happy birthday with pink roses.

i couldn't ask for a better compliment, and i hope that it is true.

my great-grandmother frances (gram to us) was the youngest of 10 daughters, a devoted child and sister. she was educated at radcliffe, a master storyteller and musician, who believed in fairness and equality above all. (she would individually count each stalk of asparagus to be sure everyone got just the same amount. if an unexpected dinner guest arrived, she would gather up the stalks and start again.) she followed her senator husband to washington d.c., befriending kennedys and nixons with grace and style. she raised five children who still love each other as adults, which i think says a lot. she was honest and good and loved the lord.

my personal memories of gram include the vanilla wafers that were always in her pantry, the bowl of jelly beans that was always in her living room, the gorgeous jewelry box on her dresser and her endless stories of her sisters, her parents, her adventures around the world. using her old gowns for dress-up, i would imagine myself a concert pianist, a president's wife, a competent business woman getting things done, the mistress of a well-oiled household.

i was 14 years old when gram died. she had been around for so long, i think it never occurred to me that she would not be around forever, but i knew she was gone before anyone told me. i remember being sad. i remember hoping that she knew me and loved me as i knew and loved her. as i have felt her in my life, in my work and in my service, that hope has been fulfilled.

and every time i introduce myself to someone, every time i say my name out loud or write it down, i think of gram. my name, a name i love and cherish, a name i feel like fits me just right, is just one of the many gifts she gave me. i couldn't ask for a better name-giver, example or friend. i can't wait to see her again and know her even better.

and so, to gram, a very happy birthday to us.


Oertel said...

Happy birthday friend! I am named after my great-aunt and in many ways, I feel that connection with her that I'm sure you feel, and will always feel, with your gram.

madelyn said...

Happy Birthday Frances and thank you for putting Gram in my thoughts today.

CL said...

Happy Birthday Frances- may it be a great day and year!!

PNRBAC said...

Happy Happy Birthday Frances Dear, happy days will come to you all year. If I had one wish than it would be, a happy happy birthday to you from me! I love you Frances. Thanks for the special note about Gram too. I miss her - she always had the ability to make us feel special when we played the piano or got an A on a report card or showed up in our Halloween costumes or made up a funny skit. She knew how to adore. And I adored her. I hope you had a WONDERFUL Birthday!