In honor of International Women's Day, a time of reflection, I turned to a post I had created earlier, when I looked at some family photos, and discovered something I had not noticed before.
Although the photos below were taken at different ages in their lives, over a hundred years apart, I saw a real similarity between my grandmother and my granddaughter, both of whom mean so much to me. And I do see more than a hint of my own grandmother in my granddaughter's sweet, smiling face.
My grandmother, perhaps 17
She was blonde and slight and smart. She came to America from Frankfurt, a solo girl, on a long journey at the end of the 19th century, to Castle Clinton in New York City, before Ellis Island was even there. And she deeply loved this country.
We shared a room, and as I was falling asleep she would tell stories of her childhood in Germany, and being set up with someone she didn't want to marry, and how she left for New York where a distant relative lived. Her parents followed later, well before the Nazis came to power.
She enjoyed reading biographies, loved to waltz, often spoke in German and didn't think I understood what she was saying, was liberal to the core, could touch her toes at 91, couldn't cook very well but cooked anyway, worked hard at keeping the house clean, missed the big city ("Miami is boring!). She kept a bottle of Ballantine's scotch under her bed and would take a "schlook" now and then to stay asleep.
She separated for awhile from my grandfather before things like that were common, but later lived in our small house with him and with my parents and three children, of which I was the oldest. I admired her.
My granddaughter, at 7
She too is blond and slight and smart. She was born in Manhattan, where her great-great grandmother lived most of her life and her grandmother (that would be me) was born. She loves sweets and people, asks charming questions, knows all about presidents -- by chance she has seen the current one up close -- plays piano, does her homework, enjoys swimming and tennis. And she adores her parents and her little sister.
My granddaughter's such a New York girl that when she was four and I pointed on the bottom of the globe to Antarctica where I would be traveling, she said without a second thought, "Grandma, that's way downtown."
I have a feeling that she too will travel "way downtown." Not just across the ocean like her great-great grandmother, or to faraway places like her grandmother, but across the sky, beyond our dreams.
She lives in a city that knows the consequences of terrorism, and like her great-great grandmother, she has seen the consequences of hatred.
My wish for her is that she -- and her great-great grandchildren living 127 years from now -- may be traveling and living in peace.