My grandmother, Nana as we called her, had a reputation for having a big mouth. She was loud and funny and always managed to get things to happen that seemed otherwise impossible. And she made it fun. She wasn't afraid to stand up for herself or for any of her children or grandchildren - each and every one who would tell you they were sure they were her favorite. Including me - her namesake. She knew how to put attention on another person. She had that kind of charm. Nana never shied from telling you what her opinion - on any subject was - and she had a lot of opinions.
Born on December 25 in 1898 (or at least that is the year we think she was born) she immigrated to the United States at the age of three. Her marriage was arranged - to a man who was her polar opposite. Nana was warm and engaging and vocal. Popou was distant, rarely smiling and not very affectionate. From how I saw the woman that I called my grandmother I would guess telling her who she was going to marry was the last time anyone told her what to do.
Nana was a working mom. She wasn't much of a cook and did not care to learn. She had a job at Saks - back when there was a Saks on 34th Street. She painted her nails red, had a thing for hats and fox stoles. She was involved in lots of organizations, at one time President of the Greek Philoptochus and even went so far as to leave Popou at home and go on trips with her girlfriends. She had a lot of girlfriends. And when she became pregnant with her youngest and was over the age of forty, the doctor's first thought was that my uncle Alex must be a tumor.
Nana was not your typical Greek-American woman living in Brooklyn in the world pre Roe vs. Wade.
I was thinking about Nana as I watched Senator Wendy Davis stand in the Texas legislature in her pink sneakers last week. That was the kind of thing Nana would do. Speak her voice. Be bold. Make sure she was heard and that she accomplished what she wanted and what she knew was the right thing to do. All the while making sure she was comfortable in her shoes.
I thought about her again when Ohio stripped women of their right to privacy in a budget bill that effectively denies women the power to decide what procedures they should elect for their bodies.
Whether Nana was for or against abortion I don't know. She died in 1969 before Roe vs. Wade was passed. But I what I do know is regardless of what her thinking would have been that she believed a woman had a right to an opinion and a right to do what she thought best and that no man, woman or legislature knew better than she did what was right for her. You see Nana knew what it was like to be a woman in this country and not be allowed to vote until 1920.
As I said earlier, the woman for whom I was named would have a lot to say on this subject. She would question why these people are so persistent in spending their time trying to take away hard fought women's rights instead of focusing on more important issues like getting the guns off the street. There is no doubt she would poke some fun at their squirrelly faces. But she would also get just angry enough to open that big mouth she had a reputation for having and remind me it was in my genes to do the same. She would also be happy that I use my blog to do just that.
Nana would #StandWithWendy as do I. I'm sure of it.
note: This is Day #4 of a 30 Day Experiment. Here are the details on how it all started.