“How simple a thing it seems to me that to know ourselves as we are, we must know our mothers’ names.” Alice Walker
I was on the phone recently with one of my best friends who was headed to a family wedding, and our conversation shifted to talking about her aunts, uncles, and cousins who would be there. I asked her what her grandmothers’ names had been, surprised that I didn’t know. We talked about the names of the generations of women who walked before us, enacting, I suppose, the very thing that Virginia Woolf asserts: “We think back through our mothers, if we are women.”
And after we hung up I floated on a sea of names, whose waters swirl with women I know intimately, some of whom are now gone, and with women I never had the chance to meet. Among all of these women, including myself and Grace, there ripples a cord of connection and commonality that is almost as difficult to articulate as it is impossible to deny.
Susan, Priscilla, Janet, Marion, Marion, Elsie, Eleanor
These are the names of where I come from, the names of my root system, the names of the women whose very blood beats in my veins. They stand sentinel at my mother’s gardens, in search of which I found my own (Alice Walker). I thought of Julie’s beautiful post about this, which I looked for after I’d started this post, and which opened with the very same lines (goosebumps).
Susan, Priscilla, Janet, Marion, Marion, Elsie, Eleanor.
And also: Grace.
What are the names you come from?