Monday, November 15, 2010

Memories of Grandma Ramsey

During the holidays I seem to become sentimental, and or nostalgic so please allow me the priviledge to walk down memory lane. Lately, we've been having conversations about names and why people name their children as they do. I am speaking about family names, primarily.

I'd like to tell you about my grandmother. Everyone called her Grandma Ramsey or Ruby. Those were the names I knew her by. I know people will find this surprising, but I do have a big mouth that has been known to say things before I think. Mmmmm, imagine that! Allow me to share a bittersweet memory about my grandmother.

My given name is MaryEllen. Just plain ole MaryEllen. Nothing fancy, classy, unusual or exotic. I remember as a child wishing I had a name like Melody, Melissa, Kathryn, Candace. Nope, I received MaryEllen for my handle. Just like the MaryEllen on the Walton's. Old-fashioned, Yuck!

One day I was speaking to my grandmother. I don't remember what we were talking about. I just remember the outcome-I hurt my grandmother's feelings. I told my grandmother emphatically, I do not like my name. She said, "you don't like your name?" I said, "No!" She said, "My name is MaryEllen." I was quiet, stunned. What, I never knew that. I felt like two cents. I loved my grandmother and would never hurt her. If only I knew I never would have said anything.

Over time, I began to learn some things about this grandmother and the kind of person she was. I am glad my mother named me for her and that is why I named my daughter after her. If my daughter and I could become a fraction of the woman with a servant's heart that she was. Wow! I would love to be remembered as a person who did for others.

Grandma was a single mother raising two children in the Bronx. She later moved to Massachusetts. She worked for the Milton Bradley company in the sweatshop making crayons. We are all familiar with those crayons, Crayolas. She did not make a lot of money but was very frugal. She would save money all year and during the summer come for a visit and take us kids shopping for school shoes and some clothes. She would take us to the five and dime store for an ice cream sundae or a hamburger. I would be so excited. This was a treat because our family could not afford to eat out.

When her mother's husband died, her mother moved in with her and she took care of her mother until her mother passed away. Anytime one of her brothers needed anything she would help them out. If they needed money she gave it to them. She gave her burial plot to one of her brothers after he passed, paid for surgery for several different people, paid for the burial services of her father-in-law, and other family members through the years. She helped her son and his family. This lady was not a Susie Homemaker. She was not the storybook grandmother like our father's mother. I am sure she would have been a great one if she had been given the opportunity. She always had to work and provide a living for herself, her children and later for her mother.

I wish I could have told her about MaryEllen before she passed away. I wish I would have told her how sorry I was for the thoughtless thing I said. Most of all, I wish I could tell her how very proud I am to carry on her name because of the person I found her to be. Many of the things I found out about her were through records, paperwork she kept after she passed away. I am truly blessed to have been named for her and hope my daughter realizes the legacy as she matures through life.

Thank you for reading my ramblings. I hope this blesses you. It was fun for me to put some of these thoughts down. Grandma was a Proverbs 31 lady without realizing it. She was saved so I know I will see her again one day.

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