When I was little I didn’t realize that my home situation was novel until my friend Tara’s mom told me how lucky I was. “What do you mean?” I wondered back to her. “Well, your grandma lives with you. You get to see her whenever you want. When Tara wants to see her grandma, we have to drive for a while and always have to leave at the end of the day. You get goodnight AND good morning kisses.” After that I started to notice that most people didn’t have their grandmothers living downstairs – and for a while I was doubly lucky in that my great-grandma lived downstairs too. My grandma was mom number two to Kyle and me, picking us up from school, cheering for us at our various recitals and events, and making us the yummiest food you could ever imagine. When I was in high school, we got closer. Grandma and I would hang out all afternoon until everyone was home from their days’ adventures, and when I was in college she sent me cards every other day and called me often. We stayed close until she passed away five years ago, only a few months before I met Mike. Put simply, she was one of the most important people in my life, and I still miss her very much. I have always wanted to honor her in some way, and now that we are expecting a daughter, Mike and I plan to do so.

Being a woman, I’ve had some baby names in the back of my head for years and years. Most of them have come and gone, but I’ve always been enamored with the name Madeline. When Mike and I started to discuss names, I told him about Madeline and he loved it. There was a Madeline on his side of the family, so the name has special meaning as well. Then I brought up the subject of my grandma, and how I wanted to figure out how to name our baby in a way to honor her. My grandma’s name was Mary Alice. We thought about calling her Madeline Mary, but that sounded a little too “Flying Nun” for our tastes. We also considered giving her the name Mary Alice, but it just didn’t quite seem to fit…we both really liked the name Madeline and didn’t want to totally abandon it. So we decided we are naming our daughter Madeline Alice. She’ll have the same initials as my gram, which is nice because everyone called my grandma “M.A.” People on my side of the family have already started referring to the baby as “little M.A.” which makes me so happy. My grandma was a tough, amazing lady who raised four kids on her own while keeping her sense of style, grace, and compassion – qualities I would love for our daughter to possess. She was also a fighter, she battled cancer for many years. When she was first diagnosed, the doctors told her that if there was a big trip she wanted to go on, she should do it soon. My grandma didn’t take that trip, instead, she kept going with her life and defied what the doctors expected of her, and lived much longer than anyone predicted. I can’t help but think about how the doctors told Mike and I that our daughter also wouldn’t make it, but yet, she’s still alive and kicking in my belly as I write this. So, every night before I sleep, I hope my grandma is giving our Little M.A. some of her strength. If Maddie has a quarter of the strength my grandma had, I know she’ll be okay.