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My Grandmother, My Daughter

November 28, 2012

My grandmother center, with my mother, sister and oldest daughter

Christmas 2005

Written by Marykate Wurster, mother of three wonderful children, Gladwyne, PA

Margaret is the name of queens and prime ministers, and a young girl with sapphire eyes ,who traveled back and forth on a boat from Ireland to the United States. She was a girl of courage, and faith, a girl who appreciated everything, and took nothing for granted. It is also the name of my daughter, named for my maternal grandmother, someone with whom I always felt a deep connection. She used to say we were “kindred spirits”, borrowed from our mutual love of Anne of Green Gables. One day she handed me an emerald green hard cover book, and told me it was her favorite as a girl. Anne of Green Gables was the first book to make me cry, sob actually. And anyone who read it knows how heartbreaking it is when sweet Matthew dies. I was devastated when it was over, I simply didn’t want it to end. Thankfully, it was the first of a long sequel.

Margaret means pearl, and being old fashioned at heart, there is something about pearls I find so appealing. They are bright, and layered with subtle color and depth. Pearls are understated, not flashy and all mirrors like their often compared to cousin diamonds. Not that there is anything wrong with diamonds! But there is something about pearls that is pure; like my grandmother, like my daughter.

When I was a young girl I was completely enraptured with her. I simply wanted to be around her all the time. I remember following her from room to room as she moved about her large house. If she was baking, I was on a stool beside her measuring and stirring. If she was outside hanging laundry, I was there, handing her the clothes pins.

She was humble and deeply honored to have my daughter named for her. When my daughter was about a year old, my Nana gave her a book for when she was older, called To School Through The Fields. A book that closely described her own childhood, growing up on a farm in rural Ireland. She inscribed a note in the front page, about how honored she was with her namesake. And described how this book depicted what it was like for her as a young girl, in a very different place, in a much simpler time.

My daughter and I just started this book and every night  I snuggle next to my girl with the sapphire eyes. We look at the picture of her great grandmother, placed in the front jacket, just about her age, dressed in her country school girl clothes with her younger brother beside her. The clothes are different, the shoes from generations ago. But otherwise, she looks like any child today, the expressions, the placement of her hands, how she stands and holds her head. Every night we read the note left for my daughter and then open that wonderful cover, and slip into my grandmother’s world.


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  1. Anne Schenendorf

      on December 2, 2012 7:33 am

    MaryKate, this is beautiful!!!! For anyone who didn’t know her, Nana, like many grandmas, was the pillar of our universe. If you think back to childhood and picture your happiest times, for me, us, I think, Nana was always at the center of it. The idea of you two reading a book inscribed by Nana every night melts my heart. There is a picture is a picture of Nana and Da in our office and I can’t help but smile when seeing it. Nana as young child became an orphan and spent the remainder of her years in America. In those years she became the matriarch of our family. This brave little girl grew to teach us all what family meant. Every Sunday after mass we gathered at her house for donuts, her special drink-gingerale and orange juice, and joy. As an adult looking back, I still idolize her and everything she stood for… Thank you MaryKate!!! I loved this! I’m misty. 😉


  2. Marykate Wurster

      on December 2, 2012 12:56 pm

    Anne, love this. And you. XXOO


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