Thursday, February 19, 2009

celebrating my hero!

Today I celebrate the birthday of the most influential person in my life, my grandmother. I haven't been able to share her with you before, because I find it so challenging to capture her in a simple blog post... but today is her 88th birthday. I love knowing you're reading this, Bev! I've always called my grandmother by her first name. She never looked, nor acted like my friend's grandmas. She always says that because she didn't have a grandmother to learn from, she has had to make up her own version of what a grandmother should be. Well, there has never been a wiser and more amazing role model. I hope to be just like her when my children have children. I plan to write a book someday about the three generations of women in my family... beginning with Bev. She has led a legendary life, but I won't start it here, at least not yet. What I want to show you today is one of my most treasured possessions. My great grandfather immigrated from Romania at the age of five. He made his way in this new country by selling gloves. When the Great Depression hit, warm gloves for children were still a necessity. He prospered. He gave his own children everything that he had never had. As a salesman, he traveled all over the world. He sent home the finest clothes and gifts for his darling daughter. She could have easily been spoiled, but my grandmother was taught to value and appreciate everything and everyone. At thirteen, her father decided she needed to see the world... witness how other people lived. She set off on an around the world voyage that changed her life.

my thirteen year old grandmother aboard the S.S Coolidge attending a costume party 5/28/34

Along the way, she bought a trunk and brought it home. Here it lives with me, one of my most beloved possessions... for the sake of history and my love for her.
Let's open it...

Here lies the heart of a 13 year old in 1934.

In perfect penmanship, she chronicled her adventure in a trip log and journal... including the day she purchased this very trunk in Hong Kong 35 years and one day before I was born. She tells the story of going with her mother on a hunt for a "chest that's just the right size." Here are a few glimpses...

The world looked very different, but she was the same then as she is to this day... loving, optimistic, and open to connections with people wherever she goes. These are only three of the millions of qualities she has always modeled for me. I strive everyday to be as much like her as I can. By living with Bev off and on throughout my life, her presence has been a constant source of inspiration. She has always guided me to find my own truth and see the goodness in everyone. Her given middle name is Hope, after all! But how do you write about a woman who has led a magnificent life for 88 years... the stories are countless. How do you write about a woman who insisted on getting her master's degree (women did not do that in those days), before she agreed to get a marriage license? How do you write about a woman who had everything money could buy, but chose to follow her heart and live her life along side a brilliant, but poor boy who would give her the opportunity to be his partner, not just his wife? They worked side by side: building their home, raising their three children, running their legendary cooperative nursery school , and they are still in love almost seventy years later. How can I write all of it? Someday, there will be a book. The stories are too great and too many to let them disappear. So... Happy Birthday Bevy! This life you've been leading is remarkable! I promise to write your story... our story. I love you more than words can ever say!

Beverly Hope with her two oldest children outside of the worksite that was their home... and soon to be the first solar heated house on Long Island. That barefoot girl... my sweet mother.
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44 comments:

  1. oh maya!
    ..with tears streaming down my face..
    what a beautiful celebration of an amazing woman!
    it explains how and why you are beautiful YOU!
    thank you so much for sharing these inspiring words..i can't wait to read the entire book. :)
    happy birthday bev!
    you have an amazing granddaughter who inspires so many of us.
    xox
    jennifer

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  2. Your grandparents are totally inspiring. Happy birthday to Bev!

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  3. what a beautiful tribute and a special lady happy 88 years!

    many thanks for sharing this wonderful day ..it is an honor to peek into a life well lived! ELK

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  4. There are many great people in
    ones life, but we are only given
    one that will truely mold who we
    are, you are luck to have such a
    potter at you wheel. Now no longer
    beening clay you are a lovely peice
    of art singing the praises of the
    artist! Sing away... your artist
    is a lovely artist!
    Thank you for this glimps into
    what makes you, you.
    Rane
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~

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  5. Your post is beautiful and Bev sounds amazing! How lucky you are to know her so well!

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  6. Hi Maya! I did a doubletake with the photo because I see you and your little girl in those sweet faces. How incredibly fitting that you have the chest now; it looks much like the hope chests which Chinese mothers give to their daughters as special, symbolic wedding gifts. Both Bev and you are remarkable women and warmest birthday wishes to Bev!

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  7. So beautiful and moving. I loved my grandmother this way too; we were very close and I miss her everyday. Happy birthday to Bev and my best wishes to both of you.

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  8. Happy Birthday, Bev. You must be so proud to have an amazing daughter! My sister and nephew's birthdays are today too!
    And a such a beautiful tribute to your grandmother!

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  9. My eyes filled up reading that and it make me sad for realising what I missed out on by not knowing my Grandmothers xx

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  10. happy birthday Bev! it's been fun getting to know you through your granddaughter's beautiful tribute to you...and it gives us great insight to her inspiration, as well! (and, oh, how she inspires US!!)
    :)

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  11. Oh yes, Maya, please do write a book about your grandmother & all the great persons of your life, and please put me on top of the list for pre-order ... you wrote so well about her, you know her so well ... what a life she had & what an extremely precious & extraordinary person she seems to be ! I want to be Bev when I grow old too ! LOL I have to add that I couldn't finish reading your entry without blowing in my handkerchief ... you're getting me very emotional, sweetie ... Anyway ... HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEV !!!! Let's celebrate ! :D xoxoxoxo

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  12. I usually just admire your blog but keep quiet but today I wanted to say thanks. I loved this tribute. I believe that Bev may very well be a hero to all of us.

    Happy Birthday! I would love to read your book someday. Thank you for the post and I bet you made your grandmother proud.

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  13. How I envy your talent to put in words what is in your heart. The love for your grandmother is touching and so deserved. The stories that must have been told by her....wish I was there to hear them too.
    Happy Birthday, dear Bev from the other the side of ocean. I will love to read about your life in the upcoming book.
    Warm greetings, Jeannette

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  14. what an amazing story & an amazing woman

    i hope she has a wonderful birthday!

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  15. I love this more than words can say! What treasures you have... the trunk, and the stories, and of course the grandmother!
    So lovely.

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  16. I also have a strong kinship with one of my grandmothers. When she passed away, I started to celebrate a "Granny Day" each year on the day of her death -- a day of service, making and giving things to others, etc. Then, I realized I'd rather celebrate her life so I do "Granny Day" on her birthday! Thank you for sharing.

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  17. What a beautiful celebration of words for your dear Grandmother.

    Happy Birthday, Bev!

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  18. What a wonderful piece of a story! A book would be wonderful. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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  19. Happy Birthday, Bev! I loved reading about your life through the eyes of your lovely Granddaughter. I'm sure you're very proud of her.

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  20. Your love for your grandmother came right out of the words in this post and wrapped around me like a warm blanket. Thank you for sharing a beautiful piece of your family.

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  21. What a beautiful post. How lucky you are to have your sweet Bev. How I wish I still had my Non.

    Happy Birthday Bev.

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  22. Please do write that book!

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  23. What a lovely tribute. What a treasure family truly is.

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  24. oh my word .. I enjoyed this post so much! What amazing treasures you have ... and memories forever!

    I still meet my 84 year old grandmom every thursday for lunch and wouldn't miss those times for the world! xoxo

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  25. I think I fell in love with your grandmother the very first time you wrote about her and this has just sealed my love for her in beautiful fragrant beeswax. Your grandmother, your mother, you and your daughter are all so beautiful and such special, creative, inspirational and strong females. So much wonderful material for a book.
    I never met either of my grandmothers , both having passed away before I was born and every week I tell my children just how fortunate they are to have relationships with their grandmothers. Something no one should ever take for granted.
    Happy birthday Bev.

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  26. Oh man....I missed my chance to wish your wonderful grandma happy birthday on her actual day. But, happy,happy birthday Bev! What a wonderful person you MUST be, as I see it in Maya and her mom(from the stories she has shared with us) Just getting a tiny glimpse into your remarkable life leaves me wistful and hopeful and in awe. Thank you for sharing this with us dear, magical Maya! *sigh* What an incredible line of women you come from, I am NOT surprised.
    xoxo
    Melis

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  27. This is such an amazing post! Thank you for sharing your grandmother's story. The photos really make it come to life.

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  28. Really beautiful tribute to a remarkable woman. And I can totally relate- my grandmother was my hero, and role model,too. She had just those same type of qualities: strong, brilliant, creative, worldly and independent. I remember being 11, and thinking "I can't wait to be old and be just like her." She also married a poor, but wonderful man (my grandpop), who worshipped the ground she walked on until they both died. I miss them both so much, and so appreciate your words of love today for one incredible grandmom, and for the memories of another.

    Happy Birthday, Bev!

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  29. this is such a gorgeous post. what lovely heirlooms you have from your grandmother! (I'm curious to know what she wrote about Havana, Cuba...I'm proud to say I've been there, and would love to know what she wrote about it...if she felt that same spirit that I did when I was there not that many years ago...) Thank you for sharing her with us today.

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  30. What a blessed and beautiful life. I love how our country has so many stories from all around the world mixed together, all in our tiny corner called America. What a treasure that your grandmother recognized the import of what she was doing and documented it, at a young age.

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  31. Your grandmother is such an amazing woman -- and it is no surprise that you too are equally amazing! She is certainly the model of inspiration for living life the right way -- without giving in to social rules or material temptations. What a splendid woman, who I am so glad to know about through your lovely post. I will look forward to reading the entire book one day :)

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  32. A wonderful post...belated birthday greetings to your grandmother, from Japan! My grandparents emigrated from China to Singapore, where I was born. My husband is German. We were married in New York & now we live in Tokyo with our 2 kids who learn German, English, Japanese & French in their school.

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  33. What an amazing & awe-inspiring woman. Please wish your grandmother (a belated) Happy Birthday from Cape Town, South Africa.

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  34. Thank you for sharing more of your amazing grandmother with all of us. She seems like a trailblazer in so many ways, and your posts about both of your grandparents leave me wanting to know so much more about their histories and their lives. That one little chest of hers would likely fill an entire book alone. I hope Bev had a glorious birthday, filled with love and family and fun.

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  35. Hi Maya!!!!

    And Happy Birthday Bev!!!! May you live a thousand years!!!

    La multi ani Bev, multa fericire si sanatate !!!! (Is in romanian, the language of your great grandfather: Happy birthday Bev, lots of happiness, and well being)

    Radu Tanase

    PS Your website caught the attention of a romanian journalist, here is the link http://www.evz.ro/articole/detalii-articol/840704/SORIN-TUDOR-Naionalism-pe-net/

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  36. beautiful post, thank you so very much for sharing...

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  37. Happy Belated birthday wishes from Taiwan.

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  38. Oh, that's an exceptional post about your exceptional grandmother. Happy birthday to a beautiful woman. Thanks for sharing some of her story with us.

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  39. What a wonderful woman and a wonderful treasure! The Goddess has smiled upon you. I never got to meet my Grandmothers and all I have are a few crocheted doilies that I rescued when my Grandpa was moving from a house to and apartment. I treasure the link to the past. Diane

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  40. Wow! You are so blessed and lucky to have such an amazing grandmother and role model in your life. I'm new here to your blog and am so happy I found it! I am part of an amazing company that has a passion for sharing and preserving stories like these. When I hear of people who have learned so much from those who have gone before, it makes me smile at the treasures they have. Our passion is for preserving pictures and making fun ways to display them - they all have stories to tell! Take a look (www.storiesbyme.com or our blog www.storiesbymeblog.blogspot.com) Perhaps we can help in giving life to the stories you have to tell!

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  41. This is beautiful. I'm sure she enjoyed reading this even more than we did and I thank you for sharing it. Your grandmother sounds a lot like mine. Coincidentally, she was born 2 days after yours! I guess great people arrive in February?! :) I wish my Gram was still with me. I hope you'll write your book soon. Even if it's only for you and your grandmother to share.

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