On a cool winter morning last week, as I was getting dressed for work, my grandmother’s locket presented itself from the dresser drawer where I keep it nestled in a small cardboard box. It’s a round silver locket, about the size of a quarter. My grandmother, Amy Dean Davis, had her initials elegantly engraved on the outside. A tiny mirror curves along one inside edge while the other side perhaps once held a small powder puff. As I lifted up the locket, the smooth silver in my palm was as calming as my grandmother’s silky soft skin.
The story of how she acquired the locket has always intrigued me. The year was 1917 and there was a terrible influenza epidemic in New York City. My grandmother was just eight years old and along with her mother, was ordered to stay inside. Her father was a judge at the time and continued to work downtown. In order to console my saddened grandmother, he brought her the locket as a gift. This thoughtful treasure was given to me years later. My grandmother and I share the same first name, so over the years she graciously bestowed her “Amy” items to me.
My grandmother Amy’s mother had a sister named Amy. Hence, the custom of passing down names was very evident in my family. As in most families, family folklore is passed down through the generations. Some stories are true and many are discovered to have some fabrication. My sister recently braved the site Ancestry.com and unearthed names that until now had been unknown. For example, my great- grandmother’s middle name was Pempelty. Through lots of searching and verifying, she found that the name was changed to Pumpelly, and then Pompille. She traced it to 400 BC from Pompeii – Rome origin. Who knew?!
So where do we go from here? Why is knowing the names and stories of our family members meaningful to us? We each have our own answers to these questions, but I think it may be that not only does it help us understand ourselves better, it also gives us courage to face our obstacles. Each generation has a new set of circumstances, and the qualities we bring with us from our ancestors help us cope and venture forward. Combined, we have so many strengths and have endured so much. As we embrace each day, we can do so with grace, spontaneity, and confidence knowing others have done so before us.
Like a snowflake fluttering down, out of breath from its swirling and dancing in the winter air, we too can find our landing. After all, we’re part of so much more.
Share your family folklore! We’d love to hear from you!