But today's blog is really about being feisty, a trait I believe I inherited from my father's mother. And that pluck is surely a blessing and a curse. Sometimes I simply go too far; take risks. So let me tell you a little bit about my Granny.
In the late 1800's, my grandmother, Aline Lyon (whether she knew so or not) was slated to marry the soon-to-be-famous Dr. Burrill Crohn. A common practice among wealthy and/or culturally significant families of that era, the Crohns and the Lyons were not indifferent to match-making. Yet Aline was an independent young woman. Instead of marrying Burrill, she chose to marry a true love outside of the families’ inner circle. This non-Crohn husband drowned at Orchard Beach before their first anniversary, uncannily after a scolding by her own father that he hoped the young husband would die from exactly such a fate since he was so disappointed in their union. As some sort of booby prize, Aline was then awarded Myron (Mike) Crohn as her second husband, and my Granny obeyed and married the Crohn clan's ""Black Sheep" and somehow, with her own brand of verve, held her family together during the Depression.
But my feisty Granny Aline also loved romance, drama or marriage or all three. Post her divorce from Mike after 11 years, she was married twice more to the same man; Joe Popper – a New York City horse and buggy driver. She died while my mother was pregnant with me; thus my being named after her utilizing the “A” from her first name as is Jewish tradition. Aline has always been described to me as a woman of determination, intelligence and great fortitude, as evidenced by this letter she wrote to the New York Times in 1944:
TO THE EDITOR
I am a hospital volunteer worker at one of the hospitals and I am hoping this letter will perhaps wake up some women who idle away their time at card games or teas when they could be doing good work. There is a serious shortage of nurses and the clinics that care for people who cannot afford independent care at home are badly in need of help.
The volunteers do good work and many women could spare a few hours a day to help until this war is over and things return to normal. Won’t women please consider this matter and try to help? It is not only a patriotic duty but an act of human kindness.
New York, Nov. 15, 1944
Not many women spoke out at the end of World War II. Not many women described 'human kindness' as 'a patriotic duty.' I guess, with her nerve, she was ahead of the curve of women's liberation and wasn't afraid to talk about it. I have other stories of her great courage that I include in my memoir.
So I follow tradition. I'm not afraid to talk about what happened to me within the walls of my childhood home, nor the confines of a hospital during my critical illness. I just want to help, as corny as that sounds. But it is part of my healing as well; and my never-ending quest for learning. It's as easy as starting with your elders and examining the groundwork they laid for your values and morality - even if, in some cases, that means doing the exact opposite of what they did.
Looking back at my Granny, however, I can only hope that I've made her proud as she keeps an eye on the granddaughter she never knew on earth. And thank you, Granny, for your audacity to speak your mind. I'm carrying on with that tradition no matter what the consequences.
|My father and I taking a risk at a New Mexico mesa; 1973|