#proudgrandma Part 2

Back in February when my first granddaughter arrived, I wrote this.

Before that, in October as a birthday gift, my daughter, now amazing new-mother, gave me a subscription to Storyworth. So far I have added 42 stories/chapters, many started here over the past 10 years as slices. Seven of the chapters, I crafted as letters to Aden, my granddaughter. One tells her how her parents told my husband and I that she would be arriving in Feb. Another was all about the baby shower we hosted for her. Another about her bedroom in Amsterdam.

This Friday, I started to craft another letter to Aden. I wanted to capture the day she was born from my perspective. Here’s my beginning draft:

Dear Aden,
I awoke in Arlington, VA on February 22nd (2-22-23) reached for my iPhone resting on the nightstand and saw a red #1 beside the text message app. When I opened it, it was a shared text addressed to me, Brian and Anne that read:

“Meet Aden Sophia Donnelly-Gunyon, born 10pm Amsterdam time on 02.21.23 and this photo was attached.

Your Aunt Anne, living in the same time zone as you, replied first and your Grandma and Grandpa followed with these messages;

Soon, more photos arrived to our phone. I had the best Weddnesday at school as I carried my iPhone and quickly shared your photo. “Look, my daughter had a baby girl last night. Her name is Aden Sophia!” I showed everyone I passed in the hallway your photo! 

I anticipate it being fun to read this chapter to Aden in a few years.
Another amazing benefit of writing our stories – so the next generations can enjoy them!

Special thanks to my writing partner, Barb, who modeled well for me how to write about the first day of a grandchild’s life from a grandmother’s point of view.


She’s here!!!

Anticipating your entrance as soon as I flipped the calendar to February
Dragging my iPhone everywhere to not miss your announcement via a text
Exploding with joy as I awoke on Wednesday, 2-22
Noticing you chose the green-yellow-purple of Mardi Gras over the pink of Valentine’s Day

Swaddled in your blanket like a burrito roll
Oh, those cheeks! I heard again and again
Peeking under your little hat, thick, dark hair, just like mommy and daddy’s
Heart emojis pinging, over and over, reacting to my text sharing the news of your arrival
In love with you from a continent away
A little fireball, awaiting to teach me your wisdom

Laws and Women

Today, in light of the Supreme Courts recent ruling, I find myself reflecting on both women’s rights and on the women in my family.

I just read about the 19th Amendment HERE to remind myself of the date it passed – 1920. This amendment legally guarantees American women the right to vote. Yet, as I read on, I realize it should instead be more specific and say white women, stating that “Decades of struggle to include African Americans and other minority women in the promise of voting rights remained. Many women remained unable to vote long into the 20th century because of discriminatory state voting laws.” (from National Archives)

Those words, discriminatory laws, stick with me as I remember my grandmother, Isabel. (I wrote about her HERE back in March). When describing her career working at American Security Bank, I briefly state “She had to say her name was Miss Isabel Sulzer because a married woman couldn’t be hired”. A discriminatory banking law would not hire Isabel unless she hid her identity as a wife and mother. So she hid this part of her life and took the job and earned the needed money to help raise her family. She continued working in this way for 30+ years at the bank. Such a law, created by the white male bankers who were fine with her skills, devotion and work ethic to the bank, allowed those same men to ignore her whole identity. They never took the time to see her as a woman, with a life beyond the bank as a wife and mother and grandmother.

My grandmother and grandfather valued education and ensured their one daughter attend the neighborhood Catholic school and two years of college before she married. They were thrilled when their daughter became a wife and then a mother. They embraced and spoiled their five grandchildren. My grandmother must have celebrated when her daughter was seen by all as a wife and mother. No hiding of her identity was necessary for a woman marrying in the 1950s America. My mother first was a a homemaker and mother to five. Once her husband chose to start his own business, she jumped in and used her secretarial skills to send out the billings and record the payments, as if she had an accounting degree. When her husband died suddenly at age 55 from a heart attack, she went on to run his company until she retired when she turned 65.

Now in 2022, it seems America is returning to a 20th century practice, when women must again hide and lie due to a law created by white males. My grandmother’s two female great-granddaughters purposely vote. These same two women, my daughters, purposely are choosing to live in Europe, one in France, one in the Netherlands. They both value living in a country where healthcare is given to all. They both value living in a country where parents are given time off when a baby is born. They both value living in a place where women are allowed to make decisions about their own bodies.

Back in 1920, as Isabel turned twelve, her mother could celebrate how her white daughter would grow up with the right to vote. Now, over a hundred years later, I see laws made by white American men causing my girls to leave America. If or when I have a granddaughter, I wonder what life will be like for her? Will she be able to share her identity fully and freely? Will her country treat her with respect? Is there anything I can do to help? Today I reflect on laws and the women in my family but I am a bit too numb to make a plan of action.

Remembering my Grandma

Born on this date in 1908
in Louisville, Kentucky
Taft just became President and the Model-T became available.
She was the beloved only-sister to Bill and Eddie.
Her dad and one brother worked at Churchill Downs, counting the money
so maybe it was her destiny to also have a career handling money.

She moved to DC, became wife to Claude B. Moore
But everyone called him C.B.
He spent his life selling cars
though never taught Isabel how to drive.
In 1935, they had their only child, a daughter, Mary Anne.
Had her baptized and raised her Catholic
in the Columbia Heights neighborhood
where she attended Sacred Heart with her girlfirends
and would ride the streetcar downtown.

In 1943,
maybe because having a 7-year old was expensive
maybe, due to the war, cars weren’t selling
maybe, due to the war, jobs were easier for a woman to get
Isabel got hired at a bank.
She had to say her name was Miss Isabel Sulzer
because a married woman wouldn’t be hired
And for the next 40-some years, she kept the bank in order
and helped support her family.

For fun she played pinochle, crocheted and quilted
and cooked the best cheeseball, gravey and spare ribs
At age 63, she became a widow
Jimmy, Cathi, Jeanne, Sally and Chris came along and called her Grandma
Bridigit, Anne, Curtis, and Garrett came along and called her Great-Nana

Daughter – sister – Aunt – wife – mother – banker – widow – Grandma – Great-nana
So many lovely names for Isabel Sulzer Moore
Born on this date, March 28th, 114 years ago.
She’s my grandma, gone too soon, at age 94.