Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ancestral Trick

by Joan

This past weekend I flew to Maryland to meet my first great niece at her simchat bat, a traditional Jewish ceremony to bless her new name and share with family and friends how it was chosen. 

Her father is my first nephew, the one I left a high school football game to visit in my pom pom uniform. Her first name, Alison, is for her maternal grandmother and her middle name, Monroe, for my father.

Great-grandmother Sylvia with the new little one
When I spoke to my nephew’s wife by phone and learned what they'd named Ali Monroe (my special, great-auntie nickname), she said my nephew speaks of my father often and how crazy he was about him and this was why they chose the name. I could barely talk through my sobs, but she understood what this meant to me, what it would mean to my sisters and my mother.

Great Aunties Joan and Madelyn with Ali Monroe
At the baby naming, my sister (the newly besotted grandmother) said this:

'My father, whose first name was Monroe, would have been so thrilled to meet his first great grandchild.

I know that because I remember how thrilled he was when his first grandchild, Joel, was born.  He took off a week from work right after Joel’s birth, and he could sit for hours at a time and just gaze at him. There was a song that was very popular at the time called You Light up My Life and every time my dad saw Joel, he started singing it to him.

When Joel got to be a little older, we’d take him to Wheaton Plaza and walk him around in the stroller.  He loved it when people came up to tell him how cute Joel was.  “Well, of course he is…he’s my grandson!”  That was his answer to everyone.

So Joel always knew that my Dad was crazy about him. It’s a shame that Dad never got to meet Courtney because he would have been crazy about her as well.  She would certainly have met with his approval—beautiful, charming, and outgoing. This must be one of the reasons that Joel and Courtney gave Alison the name Monroe for her middle name.

My wish for Alison is that she grow up to be happy and healthy, and to bring as much joy into other people’s lives as my father brought into ours.'

Monroe the elder would have been charmed by not only her name, but by her stunning little face, her pursed lips, her bluer than blue eyes. Of his first grandson, he said, "How do you like that?  After four girls, I finally got my boy!" In Ali Monroe's face I see her father and mine. An ancestral trick if ever there was one.
My nephew and his little angel

Great-grandfather Monroe


  1. Oh, my gosh! I can't believe how much your nephew looks like your father!! Try as we might to convince ourselves otherwise, we ARE our family. What a great story, Joan.

  2. Isn't that a hoot! Yes, we are our family. It's a heartwarming thought.


  3. What a little doll! Love this story, Joan! Congrats to you and your family!

  4. Thanks Julie! She is pink and glowing, just like a doll!

  5. This brought tears to my eyes too. I loved it. Thanks for writing it and sharing it

  6. Really, you had to make me cry AGAIN!!! Hey, that's a cute hat :)

  7. Courtney - so glad you loved it! I can't believe you get to see that little face every day. I love that you text me pictures to keep me up to date!

    Maddie - That is a cute hat! I wonder who gave it to her. :)


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