March 10th is Middle Name Pride Day. Although it’s a new holiday to me, I have actually celebrated it every day for many years. You see, my middle name, Maxine, is from my Grandma, my Dad’s mother. I am honored to share her name as she was truly an inspiration to me!
The name Maxine means “Greatest” and it is truly fitting of my Grandmother! Grandma was a Hallmark version of a grandmother. Some of my earliest memories are of her rocking me in Grandpa’s rocking chair, singing Rock-a-by-Baby. She loved all people with a golden approach, but was especially drawn to her family. She knew the value of family and taught it by perfect example, with all the gentleness that a Grandma can have.
We played games when I was young, games like Hide the Thimble, Chinese Checkers, and card games like Flinch. Games were fun with Grandma; she usually let me win and always laughed throughout. She loved spending time with me and I with her. We lived close to her and spent hours each week together, but I never tired of our times.
Grandma taught me to crochet, encouraged me to do well in school, and took a genuine interest in me, as a person and as her granddaughter. She saw something special in each person she met, and would tell everyone about how wonderful her family was. I’m not sure I could ever live up to the kind, enthusiastic, and confident words she spoke of me, but she was sure that’s who I was.
Grandma and Grandpa had endured hardships during the Depression and while she told of the challenges, she expressed gratitude for all they had had. The families had stayed close and helped each other, one growing potatoes while another milked cows. Grandpa was a mechanic and did all kinds of odd jobs to see them through. Grandma supported his efforts in many ways, including finding dozens of ways to prepare the simple fare that was usually centered on the potatoes.
She had hoped for a large family, but was graced with two children, my Dad was the first born, then a beautiful little girl, sadly lost to meningitis at the very young age of 5. Grandma carried the sadness from that loss throughout her life, never complaining, but sometimes saying she really missed her little girl. I think at times she hugged me tighter, in memory of her sweet Kathy.
When I was married, Grandma helped prepare the food and was just completely thrilled to be a part of the preparation. She welcomed my new husband as if he were her grandson by birth. When each of our children was born, she was elated. She would hold them, rock them, and just smile with such a warm expression that she lit the entire room. A favorite expression of hers was “I can’t imagine anyone not loving a baby!” Grandma loved babies and children. She loved family. Children in the family were just that much more special.
***She loved pets, too! Grandma had plenty of love to share!***
Our children loved Grandma in the same way. We would visit her often and she would hug each warmly as she asked them if they wanted cookies or cake. She loved to bake and always had fresh baked goods ready to share. We’d have coffee, the kids would enjoy cookies and milk, and we’d chat for hours. It was always a challenge to leave.
I’ve shared some of Grandma’s favorite cookie recipes on thecookie page.
After Grandpa’s death, Grandma developed Alzheimer’s and gradually became less tuned in to her beloved family. It hurt so much to see her leave us, but I am still filled with the memories and complete love that she bestowed upon each of us.
But back to my name—the name that is such an honor to share with my dear Grandma, the Greatest Grandma. Maxine was not a popular name when I was a child and was not cool like other’s middle names, but it helped define that connection between my Grandma and me. I am so thankful that we had many years together and look forward to seeing her again in Heaven.