Calling all grandmas, calling all grandmas, they’re after you again, the people who have babies but don’t or can’t actually raise them. You are being tested once more on your ability to care for the children of your children in an age that is altering the dynamics of family at the speed of a thunderclap.
Today we honor Marian McQuade of West Virginia. In the 1970s, McQuade worked tirelessly to educate people about the important contributions of older Americans, and she urged Americans to “adopt a grandparent” and enjoy the benefit of their wisdom and experience. She even convinced governors, Congress and then President Jimmy Carter to set aside a day each year to celebrate this special group of people.
My daughter is about to give birth, and I’m thrilled beyond words that a precious new life is entering the world, yada yada. But let’s get down to what’s really important: What do I want the baby — my first grandchild — to call me?
In 1902, 16 years old and alone, my grandmother set sail from Cork, Ireland, to a new life in America. She landed in New York and found work as a maid with a wealthy family whose physician suggested she train as a nurse. She didn't have a high school diploma but talked her way into nursing school. After graduating, she joined the Red Cross and was deployed to French hospitals near the front lines of World War I. Terrified by all she witnessed, Grandma made a promise that if she survived she'd to go to Mass daily - twice on Sunday - and did almost to the day she died.
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