Ancient History

Follow Me?



In December 2005, both my grandmothers died unexpectedly. My Grandma Mary passed on December 1st. My Grandma Alice passed on December 23rd. Losing them was the final kick in the teeth after our two pregnancy losses of 2005. Annus horribilus, indeed.

I miss my grandmothers very much. Shuffling through old greeting cards, I read blessings they wrote in pin-neat cursive. My Grandma Alice wrote large and sharp. She pressed the pen to the paper with force and conviction, evidenced by microscopic troughs in the cardstock where blue ink bled kind words. She liked to send diaper coupons and comics clipped from The Denver Post, breezy notes just to say hi, I love you, I think of you.

My Grandma Mary was fond of holiday cards. Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Christmas, Birthdays…all were remembered with cards addressed to Miss Gretchen. Usually a crisp five-dollar bill was tucked inside. She continued this tradition into my adulthood. When I had children, they were blessed by her thoughtfulness, her commemorations.

Every room in our home has something they once owned. My dining room set is from my Grandma Mary. A little hand-carved box on our mantle once belonged to Grandma Alice. For awhile, we had her dryer. Every time I opened the dryer door hot air tumbled out of the rumples and smelled just like her house, just like her. I’ve been known to get emotional when confronted with laundry. It was compounded tenfold when my children’s pajamas smelled like my recently departed grandmother.

A new year began without them. 2006 was a year they weren’t meant to meet. Neither would they meet my little baby daughter.

I look at Beatrix. At two months old, she’s winding up her newborn weeks by flashing smiles and coos. There are moments when I cry because the path of my pink burbling baby girl and my grandmothers will never cross here on earth. She will never get a Valentine from Grandma Mary, or pluck a flower from Grandma Alice’s bountiful garden. How your great-grandmothers would have loved you, I tell her. Beatrix looks at me.

We consider each other. When I first found out she was on her way, I knew it was because her grandmothers were gone. Not in any type of mystical, reincarnation way, but because out of sorrow we must intentionally seek out life’s joy. Beatrix will be three months old in December. She slipped into our lives quietly as my grandmothers left their earthly bodies. I can’t help but connect these three darling ladies, who had my heart, who have my heart.

In our search for the perfect name, naturally Mary and Alice were mentioned. For several reasons, we decided it would be best to give our baby a name which didn’t leave anyone out. During our search I looked up the meanings of my grandmother’s names.

Mary means bitter.

Alice means sweet.


How very.

Beatrix would not be here if not for the pregnancy losses, either. It’s a lot to take in and a lot for a little girl to carry. Someday, when she hears the story, she will put two and two together and realize if not for sorrow, there would be no Joy. No her.

“Beatrix” means joy.

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